FCC Wants Comments on Impact of Sharing Space on C Band Spectrum

Comment deadline set for May 31; some broadcasters expressing concern
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WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is looking into whether C Band spectrum — used by National Public Radio, NBC Universal and others — should potentially be opened up for sharing with wireless operators.

On May 1, the Office of Engineering and Technology and the International and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus asked for comments on the feasibility of allowing wireless services to use or share parts of the 3.7–4.2 GHz spectrum band for 5G use.

The FCC is asking for direction on how it should assess the possible impacts of sharing with those who are already operating in this band. The agency is also asking for suggestions on how this sharing might be accomplished without causing harmful interference and what other considerations the commission should take into account.

Comments coming into the FCC’s ECFS database illustrate that a fair number of broadcasters are concerned.

[Read: FCC Opens Inquiry Into Freeing Up More Wireless Broadband Spectrum]

“Because of the number of C Band earth stations, registered and unregistered, that are in use by radio and television stations in every part of the U.S., we do not believe that moving existing C Band satellite operations to a different frequency would be practical or even possible,” said W. Cris Alexander, director of engineering for Crawford Broadcasting in the comment filing. “Such a move would be very disruptive and costly to implement. A much better option would be to locate the proposed commercial wireless services on alternative frequencies.”

Other broadcasters said that any steps that the FCC takes should consider the significant impact that such a move would have on video distribution in the United States.

In a filing submitted by Comcast, owner of NBC Universal, network representatives said that C Band spectrum is a critical link in video distribution that is sourced from national and regional programmers. Representatives from the company discussed the ongoing need for this spectrum to accommodate new video technologies as well as the limits of fiber as a full substitute for the coverage and reliability of C Band satellites.

“Any NPRM seeking comment on efforts to repurpose C Band spectrum should address the complex questions about potential impacts on the video distribution ecosystem,” said Brian Josef, executive director of regulatory affairs, in the filing.

The deadline for all comments is May 31, with reply comments due June 15. Those interested in submitting comments can do so through the FCC ECFS database using Docket 18-122.

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