Starlink Likes FCC Direction on 12 GHz, Verizon & Comcast Urge ACP Funding, FCC Head on ACP Tour

The sharing of the 12 GHz band between satellite and mobile services has been the subject of contention for years.

Starlink Likes FCC Direction on 12 GHz, Verizon & Comcast Urge ACP Funding, FCC Head on ACP Tour
Photo of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

May 10, 2023 – Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite broadband service provider, said in a letter to the FCC Monday that it “appreciates” a proposal to be voted on by the commission later this month to reject the use of high-powered mobile operations in the lower 12.2 to 12.7 GHz band.

The band in question is used by satellite services, including Starlink, to provide broadband thousands of Americans. The company has raised the alarm for years about potential interference issues if the commission opens the band to mobile use.

“In addition to multiple studies validating that proposed high-powered services in the band would harm those that depend on these [satellite] services across the country, nearly one hundred thousand actual consumers weighed in asking that the Commission not allow them to be harmed,” Starlink said in its letter, which came after a meeting with FCC officials.

But RS Access, which also met with commission officials on May 5, said in a letter to the FCC Tuesday that the band is compatible with both mobile and satellite operations. It said it would like for the FCC to “tentatively conclude” that high-power fixed operations are compatible with other “co-primary operations.”

“The parties discussed the extensive technical analyses in the record, which establish that terrestrial, high-power transmission can provide important services while protecting other operations, including satellite-based operations, in the band,” the RS Access letter said, adding it would like the commission to further explore the possibility of mobile services in the lower 12 GHz band.

Research commissioned by RS Access nearly two years ago – and that was rejected by Starlink – was said to show compatibility of the two services in the band.

The FCC will vote at its May 18 open meeting on a proposed rulemaking that would open up the mid-band spectrum between 12.7 GHz and 13.25 GHz to mobile services.

Verizon and Comcast encourage funding extension for Affordable Connectivity Program

Verizon and Comcast are urging Congress to extend more funding to the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Kathy Grillo, the telecom’s senior vice president and deputy general counsel of public policy and government affairs, warned in a blog post Tuesday that the $14 billion for the subsidy program could run out “as soon as the first quarter” of 2024.

“We believe Congress needs to develop a plan to keep the ACP program funded while also developing long-term reforms to current broadband subsidy programs to ensure they operate efficiently, avoid duplication, and target funding to those who need it most,” she said in the post. Verizon is an ACP participant.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Comcast’s Broderick Johnson, executive vice president of public policy, said “we can’t ignore the looming ACP funding cliff. The program’s funding will run out, fast. In some ways it’s a problem that is created by success – with more households signing up, the funding will run out sooner. Currently, it’s expected that the ACP will lose funding in the first half of 2024.

“It’s time for a bipartisan Congress and the administration to once again act and solve the affordability question once and for all, before it’s too late,” Johnson added.

Jonathan Spalter, the head of the broadband industry association USTelecom, similarly said the fund could run out of money by next year. The association and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance have urged Congress to make permanent the program which replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

The program provides a monthly subsidy of up to $30 and $75 for those on tribal lands, with a one-time $100 discount on devices. Currently, more than 17 million Americans are signed up, but many more are eligible, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

The commission has been working to get as many qualified people as possible on the program, principally through its four outreach programs it announced last year.

Rosenworcel continues ACP tour

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel was in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday to promote the ACP.

According to a media advisory, Rosenworcel partnered with Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego on a visit to the Phoenix Public Library’s Burton Barr Central branch.

Phoenix is the recipient of $700,000 in ACP outreach funds, and the visit was intended to underscore the city’s approve to “innovative local enrollment and awareness raising efforts to help close the digital divide,” according to the advisory.

The city is working with the Phoenix Revitalization Corporation to help with the outreach effort.

“This critical link will help Phoenicians access additional opportunities, from remote work options to education,” Gallego said during the event. “I am excited to welcome Chairwoman Rosenworcel to Phoenix to help spread the word to those who might need assistance getting online.”

The FCC has committed to training community partners on the ground to help get people signed up for the program.

Rosenworcel was in Boston last month to promote the program. The Massachusetts city was the recipient of funds from the outreach programs.

Popular Tags