The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US is looking to open up the 17 GHz band for the next generation of geostationary satellites after a petition from a European satellite operator. It is also looking at opening up the 27 GHz and 28 GHz bands.
“The U.S. commercial satellite industry has enjoyed substantial growth in recent years, dominating market share for satellite manufacturing and launch services in 2019,” said Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC. “Satellite launches are on the rise, as are throughput speeds and data capacity. Indeed, as we enter a new space age, one might say that “the sky’s the limit” in terms of satellite systems’ potential for expanding connectivity and bridging the digital divide.”
The FCC is looking for comments on proposed changes to the U.S. Table of Frequency Allocations to and the Commission’s rules aimed at encouraging more efficient use of spectrum from 17.3 to 17.8 GHz. This has come from a petition from European satellite operator SES Americom.
The Commission is also seeking comment on defining frequency bands to be included in an “extended Ka-band” from 17.3 to 18.3 GHz, 18.8 to 19.4 GHz, 19.6 to 19.7 GHz, 27.5 to 28.35 GHz, and 28.6 to 29.1 GHz frequency bands in the extended Ka-band. This does not apply to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) boradband constellations such as SapceX or OneWeb that operate in the Ka band, although SES is also planning a constellation of 36 LEO satellites alongside its GEO and medium orbit constellations.
The changes would provide more capacity and operational flexibility for satellite communications while at the same time protecting existing services sharing the band from harmful interference says the FCC.