FCC Seeks Input on Sharing C-Band

The FCC has wasted no time in seeking comment on a report on the feasibility of allowing commercial licensed and unlicensed wireless services in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band (C-Band) which is currently used by cable operators for satellite delivery of their channels.

That report was required by the Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act (Mobile Now Act), which says such a report needs to be in the hands of the appropriate committees, which will at least be the Senate Commerce and House Energy & Commerce Committees, by Sept. 23, 2019.

 The Act passed on March 23.The FCC is looking for answers to these questions:

  • "How should we assess the operations and possible impacts of sharing on Federal and non-Federal users already operating in this band?
  • "How might sharing be accomplished, with licensed and/or unlicensed operations, without causing harmful interference to Federal and non-Federal users already operating in this band, and in which parts of the band would such sharing be feasible?
  • "What other considerations should the Commission take into account in preparing the 3.7-4.2 GHz Report?"

The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications, International, Public Safety and Homeland Security bureaus two weeks ago said they were instituting a temporary freeze on applications for new or modified fixed satellite service earth stations and fixed microwave stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz spectrum bands (C-band) to "preserve the current landscape" as it looks into possibly allowing mobile broadband and more "intensive" fixed use.

But in a nod to cable operators, which use the band for thousands of receive-only earth stations, the FCC also opened a 90-day window where for current users of earth stations to file or register or license those or modify their current registration or license. 

That will also give the FCC a better idea of who is in the band, and where as it explores opening it up to others. FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly said he was pleased with the swift action. 

"I have repeatedly called for freeing up this band for commercial purposes and I am pleased to see this important step forward in our process, as it will complement and not delay the Commission’s ongoing work on the matter," O'Rielly said following the issuance of the public notice seeking comment. "I want to thank Congress for their leadership on this spectrum band."

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.