Advanced Television

Ergen’s 5G at risk

July 15, 2022

Terrestrial 5G telephony in the US wants to use the 12.2-12.7 GHz wireless band. The problem is that satellite operators also use the same frequencies. OneWeb, a would-be satellite constellation, in a letter to the Federal communications Commission (FCC) on July 11th argued that the FCC should reject Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network plans to use the spectrum for two-way cellular services in the US.

Kimberly Baum, OneWeb’s VP/spectrum engineering and strategy, penned the letter (in the name of WorldVu Satellites) to the FCC say that if the Dish Network scheme were approved then “it would leave significant areas of the US unusable by the otherwise ubiquitous NGSO [fixed satellite service] user terminals.”

The joint letter stated: “Millions of Americans rely on the 12 GHz band for their satellite television and highspeed satellite broadband service. Millions of customers in urban, suburban, and rural areas receive TV and broadband services via satellite, and any action by the Commission that would compromise the quality of this service would clearly harm the public interest.”

“Opposition to reallocating the 12GHz band is widespread across a broad coalition of current users of the spectrum, including public interest and consumer rights organisations, Tribes, local groups, school districts, education associations, agricultural organizations, and small business groups. Over 40 organisations, including those representing individuals that benefit from existing use of the 12 GHz band, filed comments with the FCC in opposition to DISH’s pay-for-play 12 GHz ‘coalition; and its political spokesmen,” the letter to the FCC added.

Elon Musk’s Starlink system and Bharti/UK-backed OneWeb use an officially licensed downlink band that operates from 10.7- to -12.7 GHz.

The letter says the FCC when it granted access to the 12 GHz band to Dish Network expected to receive a proposal as to how [the recipients of licences] could protect consumers of satellite services if MVDSS was to be given new rights. Yet, Dish stated on the record that “concurrent sharing of spectrum between co-primary 5G and NGSO FSS operations is not viable in the 12 GHz Band” – a position Dish repeated for years, even after NGSOs had been licensed and deployed. Dish has pointed to no changes in circumstances since it last made this claim.

“As Dish is aware—and has benefited from—the Commission has repeatedly recognised that terrestrial mobile services and ubiquitously deployed satellite services cannot share a frequency band. The Commission awarded terrestrial rights to Dish in [the Advanced Wireless Services-4 auction] (spectrum that Dish has still not built out), based on Dish’s own assertions that no third-party terrestrial operator would be able to share with the existing satellite service in the band. Unlike in AWS-4, however, there are multiple third-party satellite operators using the 12 GHz band that would preclude any similar “self-sharing” arrangement,” concluded the letter.

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