SpaceX Starlink and other satellite operators scored a win today as the FCC declined to allow two-way high-power mobile use of spectrum in the 12.2 to 12.7 GHz band.
In addition, the commission adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to explore making spectrum in the 12.7-13.25 GHz band available for mobile use.
The 12.2- 12.7 GHz Decision
Some holders of spectrum in the 12.2 to 12.7 GHz band and other stakeholders had hoped the FCC would change the rules for the band so that they could use it or make it available for others to use for mobile service.
Stakeholders on both sides of the issue submitted technical reports to the commission in support of their view. But ultimately, the commission decided that a rule change could potentially create harmful interference for incumbent satellite operators using the band.
The commission did leave open the door to potentially allowing fixed two-way point-to-point or point-to-multipoint communications in the band, however, and invited comment on that possibility.
“We realize there may be additional potential in these airwaves,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel in comments at today’s FCC meeting, where the order was adopted.
As Rosenworcel noted, both spectrum bands are considered mid-band spectrum, which, according to her “puts them right in the middle of the 7-16 GHz band we have already identified as the sweet spot for the 6G era.”
The 12.7-13.25 GHz Proposal
In the NPRM about the 12.7-13.25 GHz band, the FCC seeks comment on whether spectrum in the band can be shared by mobile operators and incumbent users and if so, how that might be achieved.
The commission also seeks comment on a possible auction of spectrum in the band, and several commissioners took the opportunity today to urge federal lawmakers to restore the commission’s authority to conduct wireless auctions. The lawmakers previously allowed that authority to lapse.
“The best way to get this spectrum into the hands of users could very well be an auction,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. “We need our authority to hold one restored.” Although not discussed at today’s meeting, a draft of the NPRM posted on the FCC site indicates that the commission is considering auctioning spectrum in 100-MHz blocks by partial economic area (PEA).
In a prepared statement, the 12 GHz for 5G Coalition, which had advocated for the rule change for the 12.2 to 12.7 GHz band, said it “remains committed to working with the FCC and its engineering team to ensure that