Advanced Television

AST SpaceMobile examines emergency call obligations

July 10, 2024

It is all very well for a satellite service to handle conventional calls to and from isolated locations, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needed to clarify how true emergency calls would be directed.

AST, in a filing to the FCC, has explained how 911 calls will be handled and which will almost certainly be incorporated in the FCC’s upcoming Rules covering satellite operators obligations under the FCC’s ‘Supplemental Coverage from Space’ (SCS) for basic telephony.

AST & Science, a sister company to AST SpaceMobile, is a current applicant for an FCC space station licence to launch and operate the AST SpaceMobile’s SCS constellation.

The current SCS rules accept that responsibility for routing 911 calls should remain with the terrestrial provider, but asks for at least a year in which to monitor and examine actual usage.

“The Commission has now adopted reasonable baseline 911 rules applicable to terrestrial providers in the context of SCS and issued the ‘Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’ (FNPRM) seeking further comment on 911 issues. In the intervening year, however, the reality on the ground has not changed: SCS technology is in its infancy and no SCS provider is yet offering commercial services. Therefore, the industry needs time to learn about the best ways to implement 911 in the SCS context, fuelled by real-world demonstrations and coordination between mobile carriers, satellite operators, and public safety entities.”

Indeed, AST suggests to the FCC that it accepts the rules and no further legislation is needed. AST also accepts that it must respect the needs of the Radio Astronomy Service (RAS) and astronomy community which use AST’s spectrum.

AST says: “In fact, AST SpaceMobile is uniquely well situated to operate harmoniously with the RAS given the relatively small size of AST SpaceMobile’s planned constellation and its use of phased-array antennas that can form and steer precise, narrow downlink beams dynamically to avoid interference with RAS receivers.”

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