Last April, the broadcast industry was abuzz with the need to register previously unlicensed earth stations in order to reduce the chance of future displacement. In April 2018, the deadline for submitting the registrations was announced, and after two extensions, all fixed-satellite service (FSS) earth stations in use prior to April 19, 2018 that operated in the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band were to be registered with the FCC by October 31, 2018.
Subsequent to the April 2018 announcement, the FCC adopted an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the potential for re-purposing the 3.7-4.2 GHz band. Since then, most of the focus (over 400 submissions thus far) has been on various proposals for reallocating the spectrum band for 5G use. Simultaneously, the FCC has worked to implement the Order’s information collection requirements.
In particular, the Order required all FSS earth station operators in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band (either licensed or registered) to submit a certification which confirmed that the information currently contained in the FCC’s records is accurate and complete. Reducing the potential impact of this new requirement somewhat was the FCC’s decision to exempt those operators that submitted license applications or registrations during the April-October 2018 window referenced above. The Order also sought additional information from both (i) operators of temporary fixed or transportable earth stations (i.e., satellite news gathering trucks) and (ii) operators of FSS space stations (or grantees of U.S. market access).
On April 11, 2019, the FCC released a Public Notice outlining the procedures for submitting the required certifications and related information by May 28, 2019. Operators of FSS earth stations that were licensed or in use prior to April 19, 2018, must therefore submit the following information:
- Relevant call sign(s);
- File numbers;
- Applicant or registrant name; and
- Signed certification statement: “The undersigned, individually and for the applicant, licensee, or registrant, hereby certifies that all information reflected in his or her licenses or registrations in IBFS, including any attached exhibits, are true, complete and correct to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, and have been made in good faith.”
Additionally, all operators of temporary-fixed or transportable FSS earth stations (regardless of when the stations were licensed and/or registered) must also submit the following information for each licensed or registered facility:
- Earth station call sign (or IBFS file number if a registration filed between April 19, 2018 and October 31, 2018 is pending);
- Address where the equipment is typically stored;
- The area within which the equipment is typically used;
- How often the equipment is used and the duration of such use (i.e., examples of typical deployments, such as operation x days a week at sports arenas within a radius of y miles of its home base);
- Number of transponders typically used in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band and extent of use on both the uplink and downlink; and
- Licensee/registrant and point of contact information.
Interestingly, the FCC did not create a new electronic submission form for these filings. Instead, the required information must be submitted through the International Bureau’s filing system as a pleading, which will provide additional flexibility for operators in preparing their submissions. However, given the short period of time to file, we suggest that operators start working on gathering the required information as soon as possible.