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Federal Communications Commission
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

March 18, 1999

Report No. IN 99-12

Rosemary Kimball at (202) 418-0500


(IB Docket 99-81)

Today, the Commission proposed rules to implement the mobile satellite service (MSS) at 2 GHz in the United States. This action will expedite the authorization of state-of-the-art global and regional mobile satellite systems and provide additional spectrum for MSS. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) seeks comment on market-based proposals to establish policies and service rules for the 2 GHz MSS in the United States. The Notice adopted today proposes to accelerate commencement of service by amending existing rules to expedite authorization of systems to provide mobile satellite voice and data communications services in the United States.

The Commission has received nine applications to provide MSS service at 2 GHz MSS spectrum. Six of the applicants are U.S. licensees and three are foreign licensees seeking authorization to use spectrum. Three system proposals are for geostationary systems, one is for a hybrid geostationary/non-geostationary system, and the rest are for a variety of non-geostationary system designs. The applicants propose both TDMA and CDMA modulation schemes.

The Notice proposes to grant in part the Petition for Expedited Rulemaking (RM-9328) filed by ICO Services Limited, which requests that the Commission establish service rules for the 2 GHz mobile satellite service by amending the existing Big LEO mobile satellite service rules rather than by developing an entirely new set of rules. The Notice also proposes not to adopt financial qualification entry criteria because all of the proposed systems can be accommodated in the available spectrum.

The Notice proposes four main spectrum assignment options. The first is a "flexible band arrangement" that would grant each system 2.5 MHz in uplink and downlink spectrum, group systems in segments based on the particular technology used, and provide expansion spectrum between the assigned segments for additional system requirements. The second proposes a "negotiated entry" approach that would license all the applicants across the entire band and leave it to them to coordinate their operations with the Commission being available to resolve disputes. The third and fourth options, respectively, are a "traditional band arrangement" in which the spectrum would be divided equally among the applicants, and a proposal to auction licenses in the event that none of the preceding three options is viable. The Notice also asks commenters to propose different spectrum assignment alternatives or whether there are other viable approaches or combinations to sharing this spectrum.

The Notice reviews each proposed service rule and seeks comment on specific proposals for applying the rules to the 2 GHz MSS. For instance, the Notice seeks comment on the appropriate license term for 2 GHz MSS systems and whether they should be required to build their systems with public safety capabilities such as position determination and automatic number identification. The Notice also requests commenters to address the need for service to rural and unserved areas, including Indian reservations, in their comments, and the role that these new systems can play in meeting this need. Specifically, the Notice asks commenters to address whether one criterion for resolution of expansion band coordination disputes should be whether a licensee is providing service to unserved areas, or whether licensees should be granted extensions of system implementation milestones if they will provide service to unserved communities.

In addition, the Notice seeks comment whether and how orbital debris mitigation practices should be applied to 2 GHz mobile satellite systems. The Notice also seeks comment on out-of-band emission requirements and incorporating the Global Mobile Personal Communications Service and handset roaming authorization procedures addressed in a rulemaking recently adopted by the Commission (FCC 99-37/IB Docket No: 99-67). Moreover, the Notice acknowledges relocation issues associated with the authorization of the 2 GHz MSS and offers commenters an opportunity to address any in-band sharing issues, particularly as they may affect the Commission's choice of assignment methods in this proceeding. Finally, the Notice seeks input on international coordination of the U.S. 2GHz MSS band arrangement. In this regard, the Notice seeks input on ways the U.S. band arrangement could achieve compatibility with the existing European 2 GHz MSS band arrangement.

Action by the Commission March 18, 1999, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

(IB 99-99-50). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani.

- FCC -

International Bureau Contacts: Chris Murphy at (202) 418-2373, Howard Griboff at (202) 418-0657, or Alex Roytblat at (202) 418-7501.