The US Federal Telecommunications Commission (FCC) has started the first regulatory initiative on Supplemental Coverage from Space (SCS), facilitating the integration of satellite and terrestrial networks by proposing a new regulatory framework for a Single Network Future. On 23 February 2023, the FCC published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will be discussed in the March meeting of the Commission as the first agenda item. The “Proposed New Regulatory Framework for a Single Network Future” recognises the recent innovations in the connectivity solutions which include satellite operators collaborating with other stakeholders to complement the mobile networks for extended coverage to areas where mobile coverage does not reach.
According to the draft rules, satellite operators collaborating with terrestrial service providers could obtain authorisation from the Commission to operate space stations in the flexible-use spectrum currently licensed and allocated to terrestrial services, thereby extending coverage to the terrestrial licensee’s subscribers, especially in remote, unserved, and underserved areas.
It also seeks to allow satellite operators with an existing NGSO satellite operating authorisation to apply to modify their authorisation and access terrestrial spectrum where that entity has an application on file to lease spectrum for exclusive use by an incumbent terrestrial licensee in a given band across a geographically independent area (GIA), and the terrestrial licensee has a Part 25 general earth station licence on file covering all subscriber terrestrial devices involved in the provision of SCS.
The Commission also seeks comment on the proposed framework, including whether the current leasing rules should be modified to effect SCS, how best to facilitate access to the nation’s emergency response system (including 911 and Wireless Emergency Alerts), the applicability of the service rules, technical considerations, and international coordination issues, along with avoidance of harmful interference.
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