C-Band Earth Station Filing Freeze Announced; Limited Time to Register Existing Stations

The FCC released a Public Notice (available here) in which it announced an immediately effective temporary freeze on applications for new or modified satellite earth stations for operation in the 3.7-4.2 GHz (C‑band) receive frequencies. This step is being undertaken as part of an ongoing proceeding exploring possible increased fixed and new mobile broadband use of the C‑band.

The National Association of Broadcasters, among others, filed comments in the proceeding stressing the importance of identifying all existing users of the band to account for the large number of television and radio broadcasters that operate in the C‑band on an unregistered basis. In response, the FCC established an exception to the freeze for operational, but unlicensed/unregistered, earth stations during a 90‑day filing window that closes July 18, 2018, as follows:

  • Earth stations that are constructed and operating as of April 19, 2018 but are neither licensed nor registered (for receive-only operations) may file new applications or registrations to make the FCC aware of their existing operations and potentially gain interference protection;
  • While the 90‑day window permits sufficient time to undertake frequency coordination with existing terrestrial stations, frequency coordination reports will not be required for filings submitted during this 90‑day period; however, applicants omitting such a showing will not be afforded any interference protection from fixed service licensees, and may subsequently be required (or permitted) to submit these studies; and
  • The FCC reserves the right to require all licensees, registrants, and operators with pending applications/registrations filed during the 90‑day window to certify that the subject earth station was operational as of April 19, 2018 and that it remains operational at the time of certification “along with additional technical details regarding their operations to inform the [FCC’s] resolution of issues raised” in its ongoing C‑band spectrum inquiry.

The freeze does not apply to:

  • Applications to correct earth station geographic coordinates or other parameters that are incorrectly stated in an operator’s current FCC license or registration;
  • License renewals; and
  • License cancellations (i.e., for facilities that are no longer in operation).

Going forward, the FCC may choose for purposes of implementing modified rules governing the C‑band frequencies to take into consideration only those facilities that are licensed or registered, or that have applications or registration requests pending as of July 18, 2018.

Should you have any questions regarding the C‑band application freeze, please contact any attorney in our office.

Categories: Media