[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 178 (Thursday, September 13, 2001)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 47621-47625]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-23048]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 2

[IB Docket No. 01-185, ET Docket No. 95-18; FCC 01-225]


Flexibility for Delivery of Communications By Mobile Satellite 
Service Providers in the 2 GHz Band, the L-Band and the 1.6/2.4 GHz 
Band; Amendment of Section 2.106 of the Commission's Rules To Allocate 
Spectrum at 2 GHz for Use by the Mobile Satellite Service

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: This document addresses proposals made by two Mobile Satellite 
Service (MSS) operators to allow Mobile Satellite operators to reuse 
their assigned spectrum over land-based transmitters to improve service 
quality, particularly where the satellite signals are blocked by 
buildings or other

[[Page 47622]]

obstacles. This document also addresses other means by which the 
Commission could permit flexible use of MSS spectrum.
    The MSS operators claim that permitting MSS operators the 
flexibility to use their assigned spectrum for ancillary terrestrial 
operations would bolster the commercial viability of MSS systems by 
allowing MSS operators to extend service to indoor and urban areas that 
otherwise would remain unserved by a satellite-only MSS network. The 
MSS operators claim that the improved service and customer base would, 
in turn, enable the MSS industry to offer lower prices and higher 
quality of service to rural and underserved areas. The NPRM seeks 
comment on approaches by which the Commission could permit more 
flexible use of MSS spectrum.

DATES: Submit comments on or before October 11, 2001; reply comments 
due on or before October 25, 2001. Written comments by the public on 
the proposed information collections are due on or before October 11, 
2001. Written comments must be submitted by the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) on the proposed information collections on or before 
November 13, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 
445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554. In addition to filing 
comments with the Secretary, a copy of any comments on the information 
collections contained herein should be submitted to Judy Boley, Federal 
Communications Commission, Room 1-C804, 445 12th Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20554, or via the Internet to jboley@fcc.gov, and to 
Edward C. Springer, OMB Desk Officer, Room 10236 NEOB, 725 17th Street, 
NW., Washington, DC 20503 or via the Internet to 
edward.springer@omb.eop.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: James L. Ball, Associate Chief, 
International Bureau (202) 418-0427, or Breck Blalock, Deputy Chief, 
Planning and Negotiations Division, International Bureau (202) 418-
8191. For additional information concerning the information 
collection(s) contained in this document, contact Judy Boley at 202-
418-0214, or via the Internet at jboley@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a synopsis of the Commission's 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, IB Docket No. 01-185, ET Docket No. 95-
18, adopted August 9, 2001 and released August 17, 2001. The full text 
of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available for inspection and 
copying during normal business hours in the FCC Reference Room, Room 
CY-A257, Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC and also may 
be purchased from the Commission's copy contractor, International 
Transcription Services, Inc. (``ITS''), Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW 
Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554.
    Interested parties may file comments by using the Commission's 
Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) or by filing paper copies. See 
Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121, 
May 1, 1998. The Commission will consider all relevant and timely 
comments prior to taking final action in this proceeding. To file 
formally, interested parties must file an original and four copies of 
all comments, reply comments, and supporting comments. If interested 
parties want each Commissioner to receive a personal copy of their 
comments, they must file an original plus nine copies. Parties not 
filing via ECFS are also encouraged to file a copy of all pleadings on 
a 3.5-inch diskette in Word 97 format.
    Comments filed through the ECFS can be sent as an electronic file 
via the Internet to http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html. Generally, 
only one copy of an electronic submission must be filed. In completing 
the transmittal screen, commenters should include their full name, 
Postal Service mailing address, and the applicable docket or rulemaking 
number. Parties may also submit an electronic comment by Internet e-
mail. To receive filing instructions for e-mail comments, commenters 
should send an e-mail to ecfs@fcc.gov, and should include the following 
words in the body of the message: ``get form your e-mail address.'' A 
sample form and directions will be sent in reply.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This NPRM contains proposed information collections. The 
Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork 
burdens, invites the general public and the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collections contained in 
this NPRM, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public 
Law 104-13. Public and agency comments are due at the same time as 
other comments on this NPRM; OMB notification of action is due November 
13, 2001. Comments should address: (a) Whether the proposed collection 
of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions 
of the Commission, including whether the information shall have 
practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's burden 
estimates; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the 
collection of information on the respondents, including the use of 
automated collection techniques or other forms of information 
technology.
    OMB Control Number: 3060-XXXX. (New collection).
    Title: Flexibility for Delivery of Communications by Mobile 
Satellite Service Providers in the 2 GHz Band, the L-Band, and the 1.6/
2.4 GHz Band.
    Form Number: N/A.
    Type of Review: New collection.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities.
    Number of Respondents: 143.
    Number of Responses: 440.
    Estimated Time Per Response: 4-31 hours.
    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting and third party 
disclosures.
    Total Annual Burden: 3,082 hours.
    Total Annual Costs: $141,000.
    Needs and Uses: In this proceeding, the Commission releases an NPRM 
that seeks comment on issues regarding whether and how the Commission 
might bring flexibility to the delivery of Mobile Satellite Service. 
The proposals contained in this NPRM would result in new or modified 
information collection requirements that would be necessary to 
facilitate the proposed rules if and when they become definitive. The 
information collections would be used by the Commission under its 
authority to license commercial satellite services in the U.S.

Synopsis

    On August 9, 2001 the Federal Communications Commission 
(Commission) adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking 
comment on: (1) Proposals submitted by two satellite operators to allow 
flexibility in the delivery of communications by mobile satellite 
service (MSS) providers, and (2) other options pertaining to flexible 
use of MSS spectrum. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on: (1) 
The specific proposals made by MSS operators outlined below, (2) an 
alternative proposal that would allow an entity to use MSS spectrum to 
provide terrestrial service in conjunction with (or alternatively to) 
MSS, and (3) whether the Commission should consider allowing MSS 
operators in Big LEO bands to provide terrestrial services in these 
bands.
    In the NPRM, the Commission seeks comment on approaches by which 
the

[[Page 47623]]

Commission may permit more flexible use of MSS spectrum. The Commission 
recognizes that this concept raises new issues regarding allocation and 
licensing of spectrum-based services, particularly different approaches 
for licensing satellite and terrestrial services. The Commission 
intends to establish a record on a variety of policy, economic, and 
technical issues raised by the MSS Petitioners' proposals, including 
potentially innovative ideas that may result in improved quality and 
availability of services to the public.
    First, both New ICO Global Communications (Holdings) Ltd. (New ICO) 
and Motient Services, Inc. (Motient) (collectively, the MSS 
Petitioners) filed proposals with the Commission, suggesting 
incorporation of a wireless ``ancillary terrestrial component'' (ATC) 
in their MSS networks. To date, MSS operators have not been allowed to 
provide terrestrial operations. These parties contend that although a 
satellite system is ideally suited to serve rural areas, it is 
technically more difficult for MSS systems to deliver service in urban 
areas where satellite signals may be blocked. In initiating the 
proceeding, the Commission recognizes the potential long-term benefits 
of expanded use of MSS, such as deployment of broadband services to 
rural areas.
    The NPRM seeks comment on the MSS Petitioners' claims that allowing 
terrestrial operations in conjunction with MSS networks is important to 
ensure the commercial viability of MSS systems, and that such 
flexibility will promote the Commission's goal of bringing access to 
advanced communications services to rural and underserved areas of the 
country. The NPRM seeks comment on the severity of the signal problems 
that underlie the MSS Petitioners' proposals. Further, the NPRM asks: 
should we view the MSS Petitioners' proposals as indicating that too 
much spectrum has been allocated for MSS? Would using this spectrum for 
terrestrial service in urban areas diminish spectrum capacity for 
satellite service to rural and unserved areas? Does the technology 
exist to provide this integrated service? Would it be in the public 
interest to adopt a segmentation plan wherein separated bands for 
terrestrial services would be identified and available for licensing to 
a larger group of parties, for example, through an auctions process? 
Are technological advances likely to occur in the next few years that 
will change the nature of the sharing relationship between terrestrial 
and satellite services in the near future?
    The NPRM also seeks comment on the following issues that would 
arise if the MSS Petitioners' proposal were adopted: (1) Conditions on 
the use of terrestrial components to ensure ancillary operation, such 
that 2 GHz band MSS operators would be required to demonstrate that 
they can provide space segment service covering all 50 states, Puerto 
Rico, and the Virgin Islands 100% of the time, and L-band operators 
would be required to demonstrate that they can provide space segment 
service across their entire satellite coverage area, (2) licensing 
requirements, such that for U.S.-licensed systems, the licenses would 
permit these additional operations, and for non-U.S. licensed systems, 
authority for such operations would be provided for in Declaratory 
Orders reserving spectrum for the non-U.S. licensed systems, (3) 
technical issues and rules modeled on rules in place for broadband PCS 
\1\, (4) modifications to the Table of Allocations, and (5) the impact 
on existing relocation and reimbursement rules.
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    \1\ The NPRM seeks comment on these specific technical issues: 
(1) protection of adjacent and intra-band operations, (2) 
coordination with co-frequency systems, (3) frequency stability, (4) 
use of handheld terminals aboard aircraft, (5) system architecture, 
and (6) technical requirements specific to the L-band including 
extending special requirements relating to the protection of 
emergency operations and global radiolocation operations.
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    With respect to technical issues, the NPRM seeks comment in the 
following specific areas relating to terrestrial operations in MSS 
bands: (1) Protection of adjacent and intra-band operations, (2) 
coordination with co-frequency systems, (3) frequency stability, (4) 
use of handheld terminals aboard aircraft, (5) system architecture, and 
(6) technical requirements specific to the L-band including extending 
special requirements relating to the protection of emergency operations 
and global radiolocation operations.
    Second, the Commission seeks comment on an alternate plan: Making 
some MSS spectrum available for use by any entity to provide 
terrestrial service either in conjunction with MSS systems or as an 
alternative mobile service. Under this approach, portions of the 
spectrum currently designated for 2 GHz and L-band MSS would be made 
available for use by terrestrial operations, separated from the MSS 
operations in the bands, and possibly assigned by auction. The NPRM 
seeks comment on how such an identification and assignment process 
might work from the perspective of MSS operators and others interested 
in providing terrestrial services in this spectrum. The NPRM also seeks 
comment on the implications of section 309(j) with regard to this 
option.
    Third, the NPRM seeks comment on whether the Commission should 
consider extending to Big LEOs MSS licensees the opportunity to 
incorporate terrestrial operations within the Big LEO MSS bands into 
their respective MSS networks. In particular, the NPRM seeks comment on 
whether the general approach discussed for 2 GHz and L-band MSS could 
be adopted for Big LEO MSS. In the alternative, the NPRM asks whether 
the Commission should consider opening the Big LEO MSS band to parties 
other than Big LEO licensees to provide services either in conjunction 
with Big LEO MSS operators or to provide additional alternative 
services.

Paperwork Reduction Analysis

    The NPRM contains a proposed information collection. As part of our 
continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, we invite the general 
public and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to take this 
opportunity to comment on the information collections contained in this 
NPRM, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 
No. 104-13.\2\ Public and agency comments are due at the same time as 
other comments on this NPRM; OMB comments are due November 13, 2001. 
Comments should address:
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    \2\ See generally 44 U.S.C. 3501-3520.
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     Whether the proposed collection of information is 
necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the 
Commission, including whether the information shall have practical 
utility.
     The accuracy of the Commission's burden estimates.
     Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information collected.
     Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of 
information on the respondents, including the use of automated 
collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
    Written comments by the public on the proposed information 
collections are due November 13, 2001. In addition to filing comments 
with the Secretary, a copy of any comments on the proposed information 
collections contained herein should be submitted to Judy Boley, Federal 
Communications Commission, Room 1-C804, 445 12th Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20554, or via the Internet to jboley@fcc.gov, and to 
Virginia Huth, OMB Desk Officer, 10236 New Executive Office Building, 
725 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC

[[Page 47624]]

20503, or via the Internet to fain_t@al.eop.gov.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),\3\ the 
Commission has prepared this present Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small 
entities by the policies and rules proposed in this NPRM. Written 
public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified 
as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines provided in 
the NPRM. The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including this 
IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration. See 5 U.S.C. 603(a). In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or 
summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.
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    \3\ See 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. 601 et. seq., has 
been amended by the Contract With America Advancement Act of 1996, 
Public Law 104-121, 110 Stat. 847 (1996) (CWAAA). Title II of the 
CWAAA is the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 
1996 (SBREFA).
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1. Need for and Objectives of the Proposed Rules

    This NPRM seeks comment on proposals to bring flexibility to 
delivery of MSS. The NPRM seeks comment on issues regarding whether and 
how we might bring flexibility to MSS either by: (1) permitting MSS 
operators to provide coverage to areas where the MSS system is 
attenuated by integrating terrestrial operations within their networks 
using assigned MSS frequencies, as has been proposed by two operators, 
or (2) opening up portions of the 2 GHz and L-band for MSS or 
terrestrial operators to provide a stand-alone terrestrial service 
offered in conjunction with MSS or use it for additional alternative 
services. We believe that permitting greater flexibility would reduce 
regulatory burdens and, with minimal disruption to existing permittees 
and licensees, result in the continued development of 2 GHz and L-band 
MSS and other satellite services to the public.

2. Legal Basis

    This action is taken pursuant to sections 1, and 4(i) and (j) of 
the Communications Act, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), and 
section 201(c)(11) of the Communications Satellite Act of 1962, as 
amended, 47 U.S.C. 721(c)(11), and section 553 of the Administrative 
Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553.

3. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which 
the Proposed Rules Would Apply

    The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and, where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the proposed rules, if adopted.\4\ The RFA defines the term 
``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ``small 
business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction'' under section 3 of the Small Business Act.\5\ A small 
business concern is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; 
(2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any 
additional criteria established by the SBA.\6\
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    \4\ 5 U.S.C. 603(b)(3).
    \5\ 5 U.S.C. 601(3).
    \6\ 5 U.S.C. 632.
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    The Commission has not developed a definition of small entities 
applicable to geostationary or non-geostationary orbit fixed-satellite 
or mobile satellite service operators. Therefore, the applicable 
definition of small entity is the definition under the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) rules applicable to Communications Services, Not 
Elsewhere Classified.\7\ This definition provides that a small entity 
is one with $11.0 million or less in annual receipts. According to 
Census Bureau data, there are 848 firms that fall under the category of 
Communications Services, Not Elsewhere Classified which could 
potentially fall into the 2 GHz, L-band, or Big LEO MSS category. Of 
those, approximately 775 reported annual receipts of $11 million or 
less and qualify as small entities. The rules proposed in this NPRM 
apply only to entities providing 2 GHz, L-band, or Big LEO mobile 
satellite service. Small businesses may not have the financial ability 
to become 2 GHz MSS system operators because of the high implementation 
costs associated with satellite systems and services. At least one of 
the 2 GHz MSS licensees and one of the Big LEO licensees may be 
considered a small business at this time. We expect, however, that by 
the time of implementation they will no longer be considered small 
businesses due to the capital requirements for launching and operating 
its proposed system. Since there is limited spectrum and orbital 
resources available for assignment at 2 GHz, we estimate that no more 
than eight entities will be approved by the Commission as operators 
providing these services. Therefore, because of the high implementation 
costs and the limited spectrum resources, we do not believe that small 
entities will be impacted by this rulemaking to a great extent.
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    \7\ 13 CFR 121.201, NAICS Code 51334.
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4. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements

    The proposed action in this NPRM would affect those entities 
applying for 2 GHz, L-band, and Big LEO MSS space station 
authorizations and those applying to participate in assignment of 2 
GHz, L-band, and Big LEO MSS spectrum. In this NPRM, we seek comment on 
requiring U.S.-licensed operators to file an authorization request to 
use terrestrial facilities and to demonstrate that the eligibility 
criteria have been met. Foreign-licensed operators would be required to 
file a Letter of Intent and/or an appropriate earth station 
authorization, including the terrestrial facilities as part of the 
application, demonstrating compliance with the eligibility and coverage 
requirements. We seek comment on alternatives to these proposed 
licensing requirements.

5. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities and Significant Alternatives Considered

    The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives 
that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may 
include the following four alternatives: (1) The establishment of 
differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take 
into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the 
clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or 
reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use 
of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption 
from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.
    In developing the proposals contained in this NPRM, we have 
attempted to allow flexibility for efficient operations by all 
participants in the 2 GHz, L-band, and Big LEO MSS market, regardless 
of size, consistent with our other objectives. We believe the proposed 
conditions under which these entities would be granted this additional 
flexibility would not impose a significant economic impact on small 
entities because: (1) The conditions are reasonable and not overly 
burdensome and (2) as mentioned above, we do not expect small entities 
to be impacted by this rulemaking due to the substantial implementation 
costs involved. Nonetheless, we seek comment on the impact of our 
proposals on small

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entities and on any possible alternatives that could minimize any such 
impact.

6. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With Proposed 
Rules

    None.

Deadlines and Instructions for Filing Comments

    Under Secs. 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 
1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments on the Further 
Notice of Proposed Rule Making on or before October 11, 2001. Reply 
comments are due October 25, 2001. Interested parties may file comments 
by using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) or by 
filing paper copies.\8\ The Commission will consider all relevant and 
timely comments prior to taking final action in this proceeding. To 
file formally, interested parties must file an original and four copies 
of all comments, reply comments, and supporting comments. If interested 
parties want each Commissioner to receive a personal copy of their 
comments, they must file an original plus nine copies. Interested 
parties should send comments and reply comments to the Office of the 
Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW, 
Washington, DC 20554. Parties not filing via ECFS are also encouraged 
to file a copy of all pleadings on a 3.5-inch diskette in Word 97 
format.
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    \8\ See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking 
Proceedings, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 13 FCC Rcd 21,517 (1998); 
Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, Report and 
Order, 13 FCC Rcd 11,322 (1998).
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Ordering Clauses

    Accordingly, It Is Ordered that pursuant to the authority contained 
in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 7(a), 301, 303(c), 303(f), 303(g), 303(r), 
303(y), and 308 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 
U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 157(a), 301, 303(c), 303(f), 303(g), 
303(r), 303(y), 308, this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is adopted.
    It Is Further Ordered that the Commission's Consumer Information 
Bureau, Reference Information Center, Shall Send a copy of this Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration.

Federal Communications Commission.
Magalie Roman Salas,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 01-23048 Filed 9-12-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P