Outgoing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is trying to check off objectives by circulating proposals for votes. That’s instead of readying them for the January 13 monthly meeting, which will consist of bureau reports.
Among the items he’s proposing is a rulemaking to explore ways to free up some of the 12 GHz band for 5G. If adopted, the agency would seek comment on whether to allow terrestrial flexible use (including mobile services) in the 12.2- 12.7 GHz band. The item does not seek conclusions, but seeks input on how to accomplish the changes while protecting incumbent users, and whether the costs of accommodating new services in the band would exceed the benefits.
Currently, licensees in the band include Direct Broadcast Satellite, Fixed Satellite Service (space-to-Earth) limited to non-geostationary orbit systems and Fixed Service (specifically, the Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service or MVDDS). According to an FCC Fact Sheet, the proposal responds to a petition from the MVDDS 5G Coalition.
SpaceX and its founder Elon Musk oppose the proposal, reports Telecompetitor; the company claims expanding 12 GHz use could interfere with the emerging Starlink satellite broadband service. AT&T opposes the concept as well, according to the account.
However, the Competitive Carriers Association and DISH, support the concept. DISH, which holds much of the licenses in the 12 GHz band, calls the current rules “outdated and ripe for review in today’s 5G world.” DISH, along with 12 other 12 GHz license-holders, public interest groups and trade associations, asked for a neutral proposed rulemaking.
“The 12 GHz band represents 500 megahertz of spectrum that is suited for terrestrial, two-way 5G use cases, while being able to protect DBS operations,” stated DISH EVP of External and Legislative Affairs Jeff Blum. “We look forward to working with the Commission as it considers the NPRM to determine the best use of the band to further close the digital divide and advance our nation’s position in the race to 5G.”