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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Processing of Earth Station Applications

      This FAQ contains general guidance for preparing earth station applications that will be acceptable for filing. For more detailed guidance, applicants should consult the applicable statutes, Commission Orders, Rules, and Public Notices concerning earth station applications.

List of FAQ:

  1. Under what circumstances is an earth station application considered defective?
  2. Which rule provides that defective earth station applications should be dismissed?
  3. If an earth station application does not substantially comply with the Commission rules, should a waiver request be included?
  4. Under what standard is the earth station application reviewed before it is placed on public notice as acceptable for filing?
  5. Can an earth station application be dismissed for failure to respond to questions posed by the Commission that were not required by the application form?
  6. What is the Commission’s two-degree orbital spacing policy?
  7. What is the difference between a routine and a non-routine earth station application?
  8. When can an applicant use the FCC Form 312 EZ?
  9. What is the Commission’s Permitted List?
  10. What technical showing is required to be included in an earth station application to access a non-U.S. licensed space station?
  11. What is an ECO-Sat showing?
  12. When must an earth station application contain an ECO-Sat showing to be acceptable for filing?
  13. How can you determine if a country is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)?
  14. When must an earth station application contain antenna radiation patterns?
  15. When is a Frequency Coordination and Interference Analysis Report required to be submitted with an earth station application?
  16. Where can an applicant find a list of frequency coordinators?
  17. Where is a link for Title 47 and Part 25 rules?
  18. Is the applicant required to coordinate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) prior to filing an earth station application?
  19. If the application is dismissed, is a new filing fee required if the application is refiled?
  20. If an application is dismissed, is there a waiting period before the application may be refiled?
  21. Are there any filing instructions on your website?
  22. Where can an applicant find more information on the “red-light rule”?
  23. When must an earth station application include an orbital debris mitigation plan for the space station with which it seeks to communicate?
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1. FAQ : Under what circumstances is an earth station application considered defective?

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  Answer

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Generally, an earth station application is considered defective if:
1. The applicant fails to answer all required questions on the FCC Form 312;
2. The application is missing exhibits required by the Commission’s rules (e.g., (i) Radiation Hazard Analysis, (ii) a current Frequency Coordination and Interference Analysis Report, or (iii) Antenna radiation patterns)
3. The application is internally inconsistent (e.g., the application provides contradictory data in different parts of the application); or
4. The application does not substantially comply with the Commission’s rules and does not contain a waiver request.
Detailed descriptions of common defects in earth station applications (and the suggested solutions) can be found on the Common Defects webpage.

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2. FAQ :Which rule provides that defective earth station applications should be dismissed?

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  Answer

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Section 25.112 of the Commission’s rules provides that applications will be dismissed if they are defective. Specifically, the rule provides that an application will be unacceptable for filing and will be returned to the applicant with a brief statement identifying the omissions or discrepancies if:
1. The application is defective with respect to completeness of answers to questions, informational showings, internal inconsistencies, execution, or other matters of a formal character; or
2. The application does not substantially comply with the Commission’s rules, regulations, specific requests for additional information, or other requirements, and the application does not contain a waiver request.

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3. FAQ : If an earth station application does not substantially comply with the Commission rules, should a waiver request be included?

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  Answer

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Yes. Specifically, Section 25.112(b)(1) of the Commission’s rules provides that defective applications may be accepted for filing if: “The application is accompanied by a request which sets forth the reasons in support of a waiver of (or an exception to), in whole or in part, any specific rule, regulation, or requirement with which the application is in conflict.” The waiver request, however, must comply with Commission rules requiring waivers to be plead with particularity.
In other words, the waiver request must contain a complete explanation as to why the waiver is desired. Generally, this is done by indicating the specific rule or requirement to be waived, and explaining:
1. How the application of the rule to the instant case would not serve, or would frustrate, the underlying purpose of the rule; and how grant of the requested waiver would be in the public interest; or
2. Why, in view of the unique or unusual factual circumstances of the instant case, the application of the rule would be inequitable, unduly burdensome, or contrary to the public interest.
Please note that generic waiver requests (i.e., non-specific requests seeking waiver of all rules necessary) do not satisfy the pleading requirements.

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4. FAQ : Under what standard is the earth station application reviewed before it is placed on public notice as acceptable for filing?

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  Answer

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Earth station applications are reviewed under a substantially complete standard rather than a letter perfect standard. The term “substantially complete” means that the application provides the information that is required by the Commission’s rules. In other words, the application must be complete so that a reasonable person can determine:
1. The authority requested by the applicant;
2. Whether the proposed operations have the potential to cause interference to any lawfully operating satellite network or radio communication system; and
3 The particulars of the proposed operation
This standard is necessary in order to ensure that sufficient information is available for the public to assess the application during the public comment period.  Applicants should understand that placing an application on public notice as acceptable for filing only indicates that it was reviewed for completeness by the staff and, upon initial review, not found to be defective.  The merits of a particular application (and any waiver requests contained in the application) are evaluated after it is placed on public notice and in the context of any comments and/or pleadings in response to the application.

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5. FAQ : Can an earth station application be dismissed for failure to respond to questions posed by the Commission that were not required by the application form?

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  Answer

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Yes. Section 25.112(c) of the Commission’s rules provides that “[i]f an applicant is requested by the Commission to file any additional information or any supplementary or explanatory information not specifically required in the prescribed application form or these rules, a failure to comply with the request within a specified time period will be deemed to render the application defective and will subject it to dismissal.”

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6. FAQ : What is the Commission’s two-degree orbital spacing policy?

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  Answer

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The Commission's two-degree orbital spacing policy, which was established in 1983, maximizes the number of satellites in orbit by ensuring that Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) satellites in geostationary-satellite orbit (GSO) can operate without causing harmful interference to other GSO FSS satellites located as close as two degrees away. Prior to the Commission's adoption of the two-degree spacing policy, GSO FSS satellites were usually spaced three or four degrees apart. By adopting rules that enabled satellite operators to place their space stations two degrees apart, the Commission was able to accommodate more GSO FSS satellites. The two-degree orbital spacing policy is important for earth station applicants because the Commission, among other things, adopted a number of rules that would ensure that earth stations communicating with satellites at two-degree orbital separations would not cause unacceptable interference to adjacent satellite systems using the same frequency bands. These rules include earth station antenna diameter and performance requirements, and power restrictions embodied in 47 C.F.R. §§ 25.134, 25.209, 25.211, and 25.212. See Routine Licensing of Earth Stations in the 6 GHz and 14 GHz Bands Using Antennas Less than 9 Meters and 5 Meters in Diameter, respectively, for Both Full Transponder and Narrowband Transmissions, Declaratory Order, 2 FCC Rcd 2149 (Com. Car. Bur., 1987), cited in 47 C.F.R. § 25.134. For more information on the Commission’s two-degree orbital spacing policy, see Licensing of Space Stations in the Domestic Fixed-Satellite Service and Related Revisions of Part 25 of the Rules and Regulations, Report and Order, CC Docket No. 81-704, FCC 83-184, 54 Rad. Reg. 2d 577 (rel. Aug. 16, 1983); summary printed in Licensing Space Stations in the Domestic Fixed-Satellite Service, 48 F.R. 40233 (Sept. 6, 1983).

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7. FAQ: What is the difference between a routine and a non-routine earth station application?

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The term “routine” earth station application refers to an application that proposes operations that comply with the two-degree spacing technical standards.  See 47 C.F.R. §§ 25.134, 25.209, 25.211, and 25.212.  Such applications are processed by the Commission on an expedited basis.  Specifically, Commission rules allow expedited granting of earth station license applications seeking to communicate with GSO FSS satellites by way of fixed or temporary fixed earth station antennas that are certain minimum sizes and operate at power levels less than or equal to those specified in the rules.  Routine earth station applications are also limited to the conventional C-band (3700-4200 MHz and 5925-6425 MHz) or the conventional Ku-band (11.7-12.2 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz).  By definition, routine earth station applications do not contain requests to waive the Commission’s rules.  Any proposed earth station that does not operate in the conventional C-band or the conventional Ku-band or does not meet the two-degree spacing technical standards is considered to be “non-routine” and is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if the earth station can operate without causing unacceptable interference in a two-degree orbital spacing environment and if grant of the application would be in the public interest. 

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8. FAQ : When can an applicant use the FCC Form 312 EZ?

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  Answer

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The FCC Form 312 EZ may be used if an applicant is proposing a new license for a routine earth station in the conventional C-band or the conventional Ku-band frequencies. FCC Form 312 EZ is limited to fixed and temporary fixed satellite earth stations.

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9. FAQ : What is the Commission’s Permitted List?

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The Commission’s Permitted Space Station List (“Permitted List”) identifies all space stations and services with which U.S.-licensed routine earth stations are permitted to communicate without additional Commission action, provided that those communications fall within the same technical parameters and conditions established in the earth station’s original licenses and provided the space station being accessed is permitted to provide the proposed services. Earth station applicants should be aware that many non-U.S. licensed space stations are prohibited from providing Direct-to-Home (DTH) video service to U.S. customers. Such prohibitions are noted on the particular space station’s Permitted List entry. Further, the Permitted List is limited to the conventional C-band and the conventional Ku-band frequencies. The particular frequencies authorized and the conditions of authorization can be found in the Order granting the non-U.S. licensed space station entry onto the Permitted List.

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10. FAQ : What technical showing is required to be included in an earth station application to access a non-U.S. licensed space station?

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  Answer

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Section 25.137 of the Commission’s rules requires earth station applicants requesting authority to access a non-U.S. licensed space station to include all the technical information required for U.S. space station applications, unless the space station is on the Permitted List (and the communication is the conventional C or conventional Ku-frequency bands) or another earth station operator was previously licensed to communicate with the non-U.S. licensed space station in the same frequency bands. Thus, the technical showing must either include, or reference an application by IBFS File number that includes, the following information
1. All the exhibits specified in Section 25.114(d) of the Commission's rules, including, but not limited to, link budgets and a two-degree spacing interference analysis; and
2. An FCC Form 312, Schedule S, as required by Section 25.114(a) of the Commission’s rules.

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11. FAQ : What is an ECO-Sat showing?

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U.S. earth station applicants seeking to access a non-U.S. licensed space station and non-U.S. licensed space station operators filing petitions for declaratory rulings or letters of intent to serve the United States must attach, in certain situations, an “ECO-Sat” exhibit to their applications. This exhibit must demonstrate that U.S. space station operators have effective competitive opportunities to provide analogous services in the non-U.S. licensed space station's “home market” (the market of the country in which the space station is licensed or otherwise authorized), and in some cases the non-U.S. licensed space station’s “route markets,” (the market of the countries in which the services will be provided). See 47 C.F.R. § 25.137; Amendment of the Commission's Regulatory Policies to Allow Non-U.S. Licensed Space Stations to Provide Domestic and International Satellite Service in the United States, Report and Order, IB Docket No. 96-111, 12 FCC Rcd 24094 (1997).

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12. FAQ : When must an earth station application contain an ECO-Sat showing to be acceptable for filing?

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Earth Station applications requesting to provide service in the United States from a non-U.S. licensed space station do not necessarily need to include an ECO-Sat showing.
An ECO-Sat showing is required for the space station’s home market under the following circumstances:
1. The non-U.S.-licensed space station:
  1. has not previously been authorized to provide the proposed service in the United States (by inclusion on the Permitted List or through an earth station license that authorizes access to the non-U.S. licensed space station) and
  2. is licensed or authorized by a country that is not a WTO-member nation or
2. Regardless of the licensing administration, the non U.S.-licensed space station is to be used to provide a service not covered by U.S. commitments under the WTO Basic Telecomm Agreement (i.e., Direct-To-Home (DTH), Direct Broadcast Services (DBS), and Digital Audio Radio Service (DARs)) and the Commission has not previously found effective competitive opportunities are present in the home market for the services sought to be provided.
An ECO-Sat showing is required for the space station’s route market(s) under the following circumstances:
1. The non-U.S. licensed space station:
  1. is licensed or authorized by a non-WTO member country and
  2. has a route market in non-WTO member country and the Commission has not previously found effective competitive opportunities are present in the route market for the services sought to be provided or
2. Regardless of the licensing administration, the non-U.S. licensed space station is to be used to provide a service not covered by U.S. commitments under the WTO Basic Telecomm Agreement (i.e., DTH, DBS, and DARs) and the Commission has not previously found effective competitive opportunities are present in the route market for the services sought to be provided.

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13. FAQ : How can you determine if a country is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)?

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For a list of WTO members and dates of membership please got to the WTO Members and Observers webpage.  "Observer governments" are not WTO members.

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14. FAQ : When must an earth station application contain antenna radiation patterns?

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  Answer

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For Ka-band (18.3-18.8, 19.7-20.2, 28.35-28.6, and 29.25-30 GHz) transmit or transmit and receive GSO FSS earth station applications to be acceptable for filing, the application must contain antenna radiation patterns.  See Sections 25.115(e) and 25.138(d)
For all other GSO FSS earth station applications proposing to use a transmitting antenna, if the proposed antenna does not meet the requirements set forth in Section 25.209(a) and (b), the application must include antenna radiation patterns as specified in Section 25.132(b)(1).  See 47 C.F.R. §§ 25.132(b)(3) (requirement to submit the antenna gain patterns); 25.132(b)(1) (describing the measurements to be made).  If the proposed transmitting antenna meets the requirements set forth in Section 25.209(a) and (b), the applicant must only be prepared to demonstrate the antenna radiation patterns to the Commission upon request.  47.C.F.R. §  25.132(a)(1).
Please also note, however, that applications for Earth Stations on-board Vessels (ESV) may include antenna radiation patterns as one method to demonstrate compliance with off-axis Equivalent Isotropic Radiated Power (EIRP) density rules in Section 25.221(a)(1) through (a)(4) or Section 25.222(a)(1) through (a)(4).  If an ESV applicant elects to use this method of demonstrating compliance with the Commission’s rules, it must include the antenna radiation patterns as part of its application.

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15. FAQ : When is a Frequency Coordination and Interference Analysis Report required to be submitted with an earth station application?

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For FSS earth station applicants proposing to communicate in frequency bands that are shared coequally with terrestrial radiocommunications services, the earth station applicant must include a Frequency Coordination and Interference Analysis Report that is not older than 6 months from the date the earth station application is filed.  See 47 C.F.R. §§ 25.115(c)(2)(iii) and 25.203.  Accordingly, prior to filing an application, an FSS earth station applicant should review Sections 25.202(a)(1) and 2.106 (U.S. Table of Allocations) of the Commission’s rules to determine if the frequency bands sought are shared coequally with terrestrial radiocommunication services.  The most common shared band is the conventional C-band.
Please note, however, that the procedures are different for blanket licensing of conventional C-band Earth Station on board Vessels (ESVs).  Specifically, Section 25.221 of the Commission's rules contains provisions for Blanket Licensing for ESVs in the 3700-4200 and 5925-6425 MHz band, i.e., in the conventional C-Band.  Section 25.221(e) requires that C-Band ESVs operators complete frequency coordination after licensing but prior to operating within 200 kilometers of either the baseline of the United States or U.S.-licensed fixed offshore installations.  Frequency coordination is to be completed using a coordinated method and interference criteria objective determined by the frequency coordinator.  Upon completion of coordination, a notification must be sent to the Commission, after which the Commission will issue a Public Notice of ESVs Notification Coordination identifying the successfully completed frequency coordination and subsequently, the ESV station may begin to operate.  See The International Bureau Provides Guidance Concerning the Notice Requirement for C-Band Coordination by Earth Stations on Vessels, Public Notice, DA 05-1671 (rel. June 15, 2005).

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16. FAQ : Where can an applicant find a list of frequency coordinators?

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The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau maintains a website with a list of frequency coordinators

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17. FAQ: Where is a link for Title 47 and Part 25 rules?

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The Government Printing Office maintains a Beta website of the Code of Federal Regulations for Title 47.

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18. FAQ : Is the applicant required to coordinate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) prior to filing an earth station application?

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No.  An earth station applicant is not required to coordinate with NTIA prior to filing an earth station application.  In bands shared with the Federal Government, the Commission coordinates with NTIA through the frequency assignment subcommittee (FAS) of the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC).
We note, however, that in certain circumstances, the earth station licensee is responsible for post licensing coordination.  For example, if an ESV is to operate in the vicinity of Guam, the licensee is required to coordinate with the NTIA prior to such operation.  See question 15 and answer above.  For more information regarding how NTIA and the FCC work together

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19. FAQ : If the application is dismissed, is a new filing fee required if the application is refiled?

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No, if the applicant refiles an application identical to the one dismissed, with the exception of curing the defect, no fee is required.  See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1109(d).  The applicant may refile its application at any time (with no deadline) after dismissal of its initial defective application.  Please note, however, if a materially different application is refiled a new fee is required.

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20. FAQ : If an application is dismissed, is there a waiting period before the application may be refiled?

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No.

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21. FAQ : Are there any filing instructions on your website?

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Yes. On the MyIBFS homepage applicants can find a list of topics (such as Filing Instructions, Payment Instructions, and Fees Exempt Rules) under the “File” icon on the left hand side of the page.   In addition, there is also an earth station application webpage.

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22. FAQ : Where can an applicant find more information on the “red-light rule”?

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The “red-light rule” is one of the rules adopted by the Commission in 2004 as part of implementing the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA).  For an overview of the DCIA and the Commission’s implementing regulations, including the red-light rule, please go to the Debt Collection Webpage.  That webpage is managed by the Office of Managing Director and contains links to the Red Light Display System and a link to Electronic Fee Filer.

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23. FAQ : When must an earth station application include an orbital debris mitigation plan for the space station with which it seeks to communicate?

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In 2004, the Commission adopted rules to mitigate the amount orbital debris potentially created by U.S.-authorized commercial satellite systems.  Orbital debris, or “space junk,” consists of artificial objects orbiting the Earth that are not functional spacecraft.  Under the rules, entities seeking Commission approval for their operations in space must submit a plan showing that they have taken into account the possibility of their operations generating orbital debris and demonstrating that they have taken steps to mitigate that possibility.  The information required as part of such a plan is set forth in Section 25.114(d)(14) of the Commission’s rules.  See 47 C.F.R. § 25.114(d)(14).  In certain cases, earth station operators are required to submit this plan as part of their application for Commission authorization.  The Satellite Division released a Public Notice in October 2005 providing guidance on the content of orbital debris mitigation plans.
An earth station application must include an orbital debris mitigation plan under 25.114(d)(14) if:
1. Authority is sought to communicate with a non-U.S.-licensed space station and access to that space station has not been previously authorized by the FCC through:a.         listing the space station on the Commission’s Permitted List,
b.         grant of a spectrum reservation pursuant to a letter of intent ruling, or
c.         authorization of the space station as a point of communication in a regular earth station authorization
2. Authority is sought to communicate with space station for which the United States is the licensing administration, and a regular space station authorization has not been granted for the space station.
An orbital debris mitigation plan is not required under 25.114(d)(14) if:
1. Earth stations are seeking to communicate with previously authorized U.S.-licensed space stations (“ALSATs”), or with non-U.S.-licensed space stations that appear on the “Permitted List,” that have been granted a spectrum reservation pursuant to a letter of intent ruling, or that have already been authorized as a point of communication in a regular earth station authorization.
2. Earth station application does not require submission of section 25.114 technical information for the space station specified as the point of communications (e.g., transfer of control applications, requests for special temporary authority)
Additional information on the Commission’s orbital debris mitigation rules can be found via this link.

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last reviewed/updated on Saturday, 15-Nov-08 11:56:34  


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