[ Text | Word97 ]

Separate Statement of Commissioner Gloria Tristani

Re: The Establishment of Policies and Service Rules for the Mobile Satellite Service in the 2 GHz Band, IB Docket No. 99-81 (rel. Aug. 25, 2000)

I am pleased to support this decision, which creates an innovative band plan for the next generation of the mobile satellite service (MSS) systems. The rules we adopt here account for the evolving nature of the MSS marketplace and set the stage for licensing and service deployment. I write separately to express my support for the expansion spectrum policy and our commitment to further examine 911 issues in the satellite context.

The 2 GHz MSS system proponents offer the promise of new and innovative services, particularly in rural and unserved areas. Our action here is yet another step in fulfilling our mandate to make nationwide and worldwide communications available to all Americans.(1) The expansion spectrum policy we adopt creates an incentive-based mechanism to encourage MSS rollout in unserved communities. The triggering criterion offers any MSS licensee the opportunity to gain additional spectrum if meaningful capacity is available for consumers in unserved areas. As a result, I support the policy.

In addition, I am pleased that as part of this decision the Commission commits to further examine 911 policies in the MSS context. Emergencies can and do occur just about everywhere, including locations where phone lines do not reach.(2) A mobile phone can mean the difference between isolation and help-on-the-way, and in such instances consumers should not have to be concerned about whether their handset is terrestrial- or satellite-based. They simply need access to public safety assistance.

The Commission previously concluded that enhanced 911 (E911) policies should not extend to the MSS industry in its early stages, but recent developments suggest that earlier technology hurdles may no longer be a barrier to E911 location capability in satellite services.(3) Because this proceeding lacks an adequate record on E911, however, we direct the International Bureau to issue a public notice seeking input on E911 capability in satellite services, which we will consider as part of the upcoming Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite (GMPCS) proceeding.(4) With a more fully developed record, I look forward to examining E911 issues in the MSS context and moving quickly in the GMPCS proceeding.


1    See 47 U.S.C. 151 (mandating that the Commission "make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States . . . a rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges."). The Commission has taken other notable action this summer to increase access to telecommunications services in unserved areas. See Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service: Promoting Deployment and Subscribership in Unserved and Underserved Areas, Including Tribal and Insular Areas, 12th Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order, FCC 00-208 (rel. June 30, 2000); Extending Wireless Telecommunications Services to Tribal Lands, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 99-266 (rel. June 30, 2000).

2    The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) reports that there were 43 million wireless 911 calls made in 1999, nearly 120,000 each day. See < http://www.wow-com.com/statsurv/e911/.

3    See Revision of the Commission's Rules to Ensure Compatibility with Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Systems, Third Report and Order, 14 FCC Rcd 17388 (1999) (revising our location rules to allow handset-based technologies to compete with network-based technologies).

4    See Amendment of Parts 2 and 25 to Implement the Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite (GMPCS) Memorandum of Understanding and Arrangements, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 14 FCC Rcd 5871 (1999).