The FCC has adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to create a framework under which wireless and satellite companies can cooperate to provide satellite to smartphone connectivity when subscribers are in remote, unserved or underserved areas.

The FCC says that this type of connectivity “can be life-saving in remote locations and can open up innovative opportunities for consumers and businesses.” The NPRM aims to establish clear and transparent processes for such arrangements, which have been rolling out.

The NPRM focuses on a framework enabling satellite operators, in partnership with terrestrial service providers, to apply for FCC authorization to operate space stations on some currently licensed, flexible-use spectrum allocated to the terrestrial service. The proposal would add mobile-satellite service allocation on some terrestrial flexible-use bands, the FCC says.

The proposal calls for allowing authorized non-geostationary orbit operators to apply to access terrestrial spectrum if prerequisites are met, such as the lease from a terrestrial licensee within a specified geographic area. This would enable the wireless provider to serve customers in remote areas.

The NRPM also seeks comment on how the satellite operators’ customers can gain access to services such as 911 and the Wireless Emergency Alert system and will seek to build a record on whether framework can be extended to other bands locations and applications.

In November 2022, Apple made emergency service via satellite available on the iPhone 14 and iPhone Pro, which would allow users to connect to emergency services when they are outside cellular and Wi-Fi coverage. Apple said that the feature was the result of a $450 million investment from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund.

Last September, the FCC awarded Lynk Global what the company said was the first license for a service connecting satellites directly to mobile phones. Lynk said it would launch a commercial service by the end of last year.

In August, T-Mobile and SpaceX said that they would use a network slice approach to support communications between conventional cell phones and SpaceX’s low-earth orbit Starlink satellites.

Join the Conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don’t Miss Any of Our Content

What’s happening with broadband and why is it important? Find out by subscribing to Telecompetitor’s newsletter today.

You have Successfully Subscribed!