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Communications Space Science

FCC Guidance On Radio For Commercial Space Operations Falls Short 48

Posted by Soulskill
from the moving-at-the-speed-of-government dept.
RocketAcademy writes "The Federal Communications Commission has issued a Public Notice to help commercial space companies obtain use of communications frequencies for launch, operations, and reentry. Commercial space companies can obtain the use of government frequencies on a temporary, non-interference basis through the FCC's Experimental Authorization process. Experimental Authorizations are valid for a six-month period from the date of grant and are renewable, but applicants must obtain a new authorization for each launch and must apply 90 days in advance. Unfortunately, this requirement does not meet the needs of suborbital launch providers who expect to fly several times per day and schedule launches as needed, on very short notice."
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FCC Guidance On Radio For Commercial Space Operations Falls Short

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 16, 2013 @07:25PM (#43193669)

    (Author's Note: Author works in the satellite communications industry, and also holds an Amateur Radio license. All opinions are the author's own and he does not speak for either the satellite communications industry nor the Amateur radio operator's community.)

    First, the FCC doesn't provision spectrum use for the whole planet--nor do they provision spectrum use for the US in a vacuum. The FCC works in cooperation with the ITU and other governing authorities when it comes to spectrum allocation.
    Some areas of spectrum have long been in high-demand--a quick glance at the HF Spectrum chart published by NIST strongly suggests this. One of the major issues, historically, has been that spectrum set-asides have been allocated and under-utilized or not utilized at all. This has had the effect of crowding other users' allocations, as well as over-inflating the value of the remaining spectrum allocations--simple law of supply and demand.

    The argument (to paraphrase) that the public owns the airwaves, so the public should have unfettered access at will is not only ridiculous, but dangerous; and completely ignores about 200 years of both case law as well as Constitutional provisions regarding interstate commerce. The Federal government is *well* within their rights to govern the airwaves. What is more, spectrum that *has* been given over to the "general public" and left to govern itself (I'm specifically thinking here about the 27MHz CB band) has been a complete and utter failure--people running illegal equipment, at illegal power levels; causing interference with spurrious emmissions, broadcasting instead of utilizing the spectrum for two-way communications, and wandering outside their allocation into adjacent areas of the HF bands. The only reason the FCC has allowed the disaster that is the CB band to go on for so long is that a] there's no way to stuff the genie back in the bottle--and they know it--and b] by allowing the kids to play in the CB sandbox, at least it contains the problem. The huge up-side to having the CB band at the frequency it falls within is that it's *far* less likely, from a propagational standpoint, to cause harm to legitimate users, first; and second that the Amateur Radio 10meter band is immediately adjacent to the 11m CB band--and hams have historically been *much* better (although not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination) about governing themselves in accordance with the FCC rules. That is not to say Radio Amateurs are saints -there's bad apples in any crowd. However, by and large hams value their licenses and conduct themselves accordingly.

        There *is* spectrum for commercial space operations to use, as well--but just like other stake-holders, there are requirements that have to be met. Within the US there are many, many frequencies for aeronautical use - but there may need to be de-confliction with other users, and users and equipment will probably need to be licensed--just like *all* the other users of the spectrum. What is more, Commercial Space Operations are a johnny-come-lately to the game--so getting everything they want just by asking is simply not going to happen--and that's just in the US and dealing with the FCC--take it to the ITU for worldwide de-confliction and it becomes a much more complicated matter.

        What it sounds like, to me, is that they need a Commercial Space Operations Frequency Managers Working Group to work with the ITU and the FCC and other countries to work a solution set.

  • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Informative)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <[slashdot3] [at] [justconnected.net]> on Saturday March 16, 2013 @08:52PM (#43194103)

    AM doesn't suffer from the capture effect [wikipedia.org]. The "range" of a low-power "highway advisory" [wikipedia.org] type station is limited because in order to clearly hear the low-power station, you need a strong enough signal that the main user of that frequency is completely overpowered. This limits the range, and "transition" is linear (the further you get, the more you hear the main user). By comparison, if one FM signal is stronger than another by even a bit, that's *all* you hear. Furthermore if there are periodic changes in which signal is the strongest in a fringe area, it's extremely disruptive because there's an abrupt transition back and forth - not a gentle fading. So the fact that the AM band is full of crap that doesn't seem to affect things doesn't prove very much.

    Furthermore, it appears that the FCC has always supported LPFM just as GP claims. The Congress made it more difficult for stations to be licensed in 2000 (of that legislation: "Basically, this act shifts policy making from the FCC to Congress, which was considered an insult against the FCC."), but since then there's been a shift back to making it easier. You should update your arguments. Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski said, "Low power FM stations are small, but they make a giant contribution to local community programming. This important law eliminates the unnecessary restrictions that kept these local stations off the air in cities and towns across the country." [wikipedia.org]

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