Thursday, June 17, 2010

FCC Task Force Looks at Satellite Spectrum for Mobile Broadband

As part of the National Broadband Plan, the FCC Spectrum Task Force is kicking off an initiative to increase value, utilization, and investment in mobile satellite service (MSS) bands. The first FCC proceeding has been scheduled for July, which could unleash up to 90 MHz of additional spectrum for mobile broadband, consistent with the National Broadband Plan recommendation to accelerate terrestrial deployment in the mobile satellite service band. The FCC said that by removing policies that are currently barriers to flexible use of terrestrial mobile wireless service, there is an opportunity to enable the deployment of mobile broadband, while retaining market-wide MSS capability, especially for public safety, rural services, and the federal government.

"The Spectrum Task Force has already begun executing the Commission's spectrum agenda, consistent
with the spectrum plan outlined in the National Broadband Plan," said Ruth Milkman, Co-Chair of the
Task Force. "Job number one is to make more spectrum available for flexible use, including terrestrial
mobile broadband."

Shortly after the broadband plan's release, the FCC approved the Harbinger-SkyTerra transaction, which will enable Harbinger to invest billions of dollars in building a 4G wireless network using spectrum that includes the MSS bands.

In May, the Commission adopted the WCS-SDARS Order, making 25 MHz of spectrum available for
mobile broadband services.

  • In March 2010, The FCC approved the transfer of control of SkyTerra to Harbinger Capital Partners.SkyTerra is building two new satellites for a next generation ancillary terrestrial network, which will offer ubiquitous mobile + satellite communications across North America for public safety, homeland security, aviation, transportation and entertainment. Dual-Mode handsets would work on both 700 MHz public safety terrestrial networks and on satellites when terrestrial networks are unavailable or inaccessible. The first of two SkyTerra next-generation satellites is planned for launch this year. Harbinger said it plans to use SkyTerra's spectrum in concert with its other investments in radio frequencies to implement an open next generation terrestrial network and mobile satellite system. The new network could lead to increased competition in mobile broadband services, a goal supported by the FCC's newly released National Broadband Plan.