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Regulatory Wrap

By | October 25, 2004

      Who’s Doing What? What To Expect Near-Term What It All Means
      The U.S. Defense Department (DoD) received Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved to use the 2025-2110 MHz band on a co-equal, primary basis with non-federal government operations for earth stations at 11 sites. The earth stations support military space operations in tracking, telemetry, and commanding (TT&C). The change will provide DOD with additional flexibility in the band 1755-1850 MHz to accommodate systems displaced from the 1710-1755 MHz band that would be used for the introduction of AWC (Advanced Wireless Services) into the band. EchoStar Communications [DISH], ( 9601 S. Meridian Blvd. Englewood, Colo. 80112 EchoStar is the second-largest satellite TV service in the United States. It has amassed an estimated 10 million subscribers and offers local channels in more markets than rival DirecTV, the largest U.S.-based satellite television services provider. The company also has ambitious expansion plans that require regulatory approval to pursue. Key Contact: Steve Caulk 303/723-1100 Under a seventh report and order by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) would be allowed to operate stations in the fixed and mobile, except aeronautical mobile services, in the band 2025-2110 MHz on a secondary basis at six sites in the southwestern region of the United States. The FCC also rescinded the recently established rules for the Wireless Communications Services (WCS) at 2385-2390 MHz and no longer will make the band 2390-2400 MHz available for use by Unlicensed Personal Communications Services (UPCS). The commission allowed flight test stations to operate in the band of 2385-2395 MHz. That okay, in turn, will permit DOD to relocate all aeronautical mobile systems out of the band 1710-1755 MHz. In addition, these allocation changes provide needed replacement spectrum for use by DOD and commercial flight test stations, which recently lost access to 35 megahertz of spectrum at 1525-1535 MHz and 2320-2345 MHz. In a recent decision adopted and released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), EchoStar received approval to build and launch three new satellites. The spacecraft would be deployed at 83 degrees West, 109 degrees West and 121 degrees West. EchoStar also was granted requests for waivers of rules that otherwise would restrict use of downlink frequencies in the 10.7-11.7 GHz bands. Grant of the company’s three applications to use the related orbital slots was given to spur competition in the U.S. satellite television market and to provide consumers with more alternatives in choosing communications providers. The new satellites are intended to provide primarily three types of services: direct-to-home (DTH) capabilities, including so-called local- into-local services and high definition (HD) television, transport of programming to the company’s DBS uplink centers, and international DTH, broadband and programming transport services. This report and order accomplishes two main tasks. First, its lets federal government users access to new frequencies – generally grouped into frequencies in the band 2025-2110 MHz (2 GHz) and frequencies in the band 2360-2400 MHz – that will allow users to relocate existing operations to free spectrum for users to relocate operations from the 1710-1755 MHz band. Second, relocation procedures and policies make these relocations of U.S. government users possible. The FCC also ruled that it was extremely unlikely that aeronautical mobile transmitters would be in close enough proximity to satellite DARS receivers to create a potential for harmful interference to those receivers. Sirius Satellite Radio [SIRI] and XM Satellite Radio [XMSR] expressed concern about a proposed change in DoD spectrum use. However, the FCC okayed the DoD’s request to move essential aeronautical mobile systems to the 2360-2395 MHz band from the 1710-1755 MHz band. Sirius and XM had asked that all aeronautical mobile operators in the 2350-2395 MHz band meet certain limits that apply to Wireless Communications Services (WCS) licensees. EchoStar will be able to pursue its expansion plans, following a favorable decision on three related licensing applications. The company also sought and received FCC approval to gain a waiver of Footnote NG 104 and footnote 2 of Section 25.202(s)(1) for telemetry, tracking and control (TT&C) operations. The next step for EchoStar will be to meet milestone requirements set by the FCC. The first is to execute a binding contract for the construction of each of the satellites by Sept. 30, 2005. Other key milestones include completion of a critical design review by Sept. 30, 2006, start of construction by Sept. 30, 2007, and the launch and use of each satellite by Sept. 30, 2009. EchoStar is required to post a $3 million bond by Oct. 30, 2004, for each application that was granted. The term of each EchoStar license would be 15 years and begin on the date that the company certifies that each satellite has been successfully placed in orbit and that its operations fully conform to the FCC’s authorization.
      Sources: FCC, Satellite News
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