February 26, 2021.  The Federal Communications Commission has issued a public notice seeking comment on a draft recommendation (the “Recommendation”) to be considered at the 2023 World Radio Conference (WRC-23).

In the  Final Acts of the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19), an agenda item (Item 1.18) was included, which determined to “consider studies relating to spectrum needs and potential new allocations … for future development of narrowband mobile-satellite systems.”  This included inviting the ITU Radiocommunication Sector 1 to study possible allocations for terrestrial devices in:

  • 1695-1710 MHz in Region 2
  • 2010-2025 MHz in Region 1
  • 3300-3315 MHz and 3385-3400 MHz in Region 2.

Agenda Item 1.18 focuses on the spectrum needs and technical requirements of the mobile-satellite service (MSS) for low-data rate applications such as asset tracking and Internet-of-Things (IoT) communications.

In response to Item 1.18, the World Radio Conference Advisor Committee has provided the Commission with the Recommendation, presenting the United States’ position to WRC-23 on these considerations.  The Recommendation states in relevant part that the United States “…supports the sharing and compatibility studies to determine the suitability of new primary or secondary allocations for NGSO MSS in [these] frequency bands, or portions thereof … taking into account the need to ensure protection and to not impose constraints on the future development of existing primary services in these frequency ranges and adjacent frequency bands.”

The Recommendation notes that the United States has significant investments in terrestrial mobile operations, radiolocation services, and various military-grade radar systems in those frequency bands in Region 2.  Considering this, the United States supports regulatory action consistent with studies that demonstrate the protection of these existing operations and services.   Comments in response to the proposed Recommendation must be submitted by March 9, 2021.

A similar question has been raised in another proceeding prompted by a November of 2020 Petition for Rulemaking seeking to expand spectrum availability for small satellites by designating one megahertz of downlink spectrum and four megahertz of uplink spectrum for MSS services in the 2020-2025 MHz frequency band.  The Commission has not initiated a formal rulemaking in response to the petition.