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FCC Flooded with Nearly Identical Comments Opposing Opening 12 GHz

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It appears that a bunch of StarLink satellite broadband customers are well-versed--in lockstep, even--on the FCC's 12 GHz docket, at least according to a flood of comments on the FCC's proposal to open up the midband 12 GHz satellite band to terrestrial 5G wireless.

The dozens of comments that were posted in the FCC's 12 GHz docket Wednesday said allowing the band to be shared threatened their satellite broadband service, several suggesting that a big downside would be the buffering of streaming services like Netflix or Hulu.

But while many of the comments featured different lead graphs, they then fell into boilerplate points that reflected an unusual knowledge of the issue for the typical customer, as well as identical language, like the following: "The FCC should reject efforts to repurpose and change the rules relating to this spectrum that is used by satellite operators to provide high-speed broadband and other services in my community and throughout the country. The FCC's proposed rule asks whether or not the 12 GHz band can be repurposed without causing interference with and disrupting services provided by satellites, like my Starlink internet service."

Back in 2020, the FCC sought comment on whether and how to allow terrestrial use while protecting incumbent users. The FCC has been all for sharing spectrum to meet the 5G need and is expected to do so with the 12 GHz band as well. In January 2021 it did just that, voting unanimously to propose opening up that 500 GHz midband spectrum for unlicensed 5G use.

The band is currently used for DBS, fixed satellite service multichannel video and data service (MVDDS), like Starlink's broadband service. All are co-primary users, but DBS must be protected from interference. ■

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.