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Heavy Lobbying

SCS Framework Seen Getting 5-0 Approval; World Waiting for WRC-27

The supplemental coverage from space (SCS) licensing framework on the FCC’s Thursday open meeting agenda should receive unanimous approval, space industry experts tell us. There was heavy lobbying last week on the draft order, with suggestions for edits and tweaks.

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While a number of nations are looking at SCS issues, including Australia and Brazil, the U.S. has jumped out front, said Mindel de la Torre, Omnispace chief regulatory and international strategy officer. While the International Telecommunication Union has an SCS agenda item for the 2027 World Radiocommunication Conference, 1.13, looking at mobile satellite service in international mobile telecommunications bands, most countries won’t take major SCS steps prior to WRC-27, she said. Some nations might try out SCS frameworks, while waiting to see what happens at WRC-27, she added.

FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington is considering adding questions to the accompanying Further NPRM, industry lawyers said: The questions relate to how devices process foreign GPS and global navigation satellite system signals. The FNPRM asks questions about how SCS handles 911 calls and protects radio astronomy.

The agency is expected to change draft rules, as wireless carriers requested, said industry officials active in the proceeding. Among the more likely changes would be on out-of-band emissions (OOBE) limits, an item T-Mobile and SpaceX raised (see 2403060055). The draft proposes to establish a single aggregate out-of-band power flux density limit, but the companies asked the regulator to defer on setting limits.

Another potential change could come on a requirement that an SCS provider have an agreement with a U.S. license before getting authorization to provide international services. The SCS licensee would lose the authorization for international service if the U.S. lease goes away. The way the draft ties internal SCS service and authorization to an agreement with a U.S. provider doesn't make sense, one official said.

The FCC requirement that terrestrial device authorization grantees get new authorizations for previously certified terrestrial devices to show those devices have approval to operate under mobile satellite service and SCS rules is complicated by the fact that an SCS-capable device depends on which SCS system is being used, Lynk Global said Friday in docket 23-65. If the agency doesn’t opt for a certification by rule, it should tackle the issue under a Further NPRM, the company said. Omnispace applauded the FCC making SCS mobile satellite service a secondary service instead of having a co-primary allocation, as the agency initially had proposed, and the agency making clear that just because SCS can operate in a particular frequency band doesn’t guarantee that the commission will automatically authorize SCS operations in that band. It urged the FCC to make clear the steps needed for a foreign operator to make a complaint about harmful interference by an SCS licensee.

Omnispace said the FCC should require that as a condition for a license, receiving an interference complaint from a primary status licensee will result in the loss of operating authority until the FCC or the parties can resolve the dispute. Dish Network said it backed the FCC’s proposed OOBE limits and the prerequisites to a U.S. SCS license, and urged the agency to "stand firm and reject last minute calls to remove or change them” as doing so would boost the risk of harmful interference.

Parts of the proposed SCS framework, such as the geographically independent area (GIA) and spectrum band entry criteria, "are unnecessary," AT&T said. It said the agency should make clear that it will expeditiously process any SCS application, regardless of GIA issues or whatever terrestrial wireless band it's in, as long as it demonstrates that the proposed operations won't interfere with co-channel or adjacent channel operations. It said that while the FCC is excluding the wireless communications service band from the SCS framework, it similarly should process applications in that band that address interference concerns.

In more than two months of testing its SCS service (see 2401100067), SpaceX said it hadn’t received notices of harmful interference from in-band, out-of-band, or cross-border users, "and has no reason to believe such interference has occurred."