[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 46 (Friday, March 8, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 14952-14957]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-04429]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 2

[IB Docket No. 12-376; FCC 12-161]


Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft Communicating with Fixed-Satellite 
Service Geostationary-Orbit Space Stations

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeks comment on a 
proposal to elevate the allocation status of Earth Stations Aboard 
Aircraft (ESAA) in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band from secondary to primary and 
whether giving ESAA licensees primary status in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band 
would require a change to the technical rules.

DATES: Submit comments on or before April 8, 2013, and replies on or 
before April 29, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by IB Docket No. 12-376, 
by any of the following methods:
    [ssquf] Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
    [ssquf] Federal Communications Commission's ECFS Web site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting 
comments.
    [ssquf] People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email to FCC504@fcc.gov, phone: 202-418-
0530 (voice), tty: 202-418-0432.

For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrea Kelly, Satellite Division, 
International Bureau, FCC, (202) 418-0748, Andrea.Kelly@fcc.gov, or 
Howard Griboff, Policy Division, International Bureau, FCC, (202) 418-
1460, Howard.Griboff@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking in IB Docket No. 12-376, FCC 12-161, adopted on 
December 20, 2012 and released on December 28, 2012. The full text of 
this document is available for inspection and copying during normal 
business hours in the FCC Reference Center, 445 12th Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20554. The document also is available for download over 
the Internet at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-12-161A1.doc. The complete text also may be purchased from the 
Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc. 
(BCPI), located in Room CY-B402, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 
20554. Customers may contact BCPI at its Web site, http://www.bcpiweb.com, or call 1-800-378-3160.

Comment Filing Procedures

    Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file 
comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated above. 
Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing 
System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking 
Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
    [ssquf] Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS Web site at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
    [ssquf] Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file 
an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or 
rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, 
by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
    [ssquf] All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for 
the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 
12th St., SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 
8 a.m. to 7 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber 
bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before entering 
the building.
    [ssquf] Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
    [ssquf] U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail 
must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.

Summary of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    In the Report and Order released simultaneously with this Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, IB Docket No. 12-376, the Commission adopts 
footnotes to the Table of Allocations indicating that ESAA is an 
application of the FSS and may be authorized to communicate with GSO 
space stations of the FSS on a primary basis in the 11.7-12.2 GHz band 
(space-to-Earth), on an unprotected basis in 10.95-11.2 GHz and 11.45-
11.7 GHz (space-to-Earth), and on a secondary basis in the 14.0-14.5 
GHz band (Earth-to-space). A number of parties argue, however, that 
regulatory parity between ESV, VMES and ESAA suggests that ESAA as an 
application of the FSS should also be authorized on a primary basis in 
the 14.0-14.5 GHz uplink band. The Commission believes that the 
technical rules adopted in the Report and Order would support such a 
regulatory change. Accordingly, the Commission tentatively concurs with 
this recommendation and seeks comment on the proposal to elevate ESAA 
as an application of the FSS to primary status in the 14.0-14.5 GHz 
band (Earth-to-space) band. Specifically, we propose to revise non-
Federal government (NG) footnote 55 to include a primary allocation for 
ESAA in the 14.0-14.5 GHz (Earth-to-space) band. The proposed footnote 
reads as follows:

    NG55 In the bands 11.7-12.2 GHz (space-to-Earth) and 14-14.5 GHz 
(Earth-to-space), Earth Stations on Vessels (ESV), Vehicle-Mounted 
Earth Stations (VMES), and Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (ESAA) as 
regulated under 47 CFR part 25 are applications of the fixed-
satellite service and may be authorized to communicate with 
geostationary satellites in the fixed-satellite service on a primary 
basis.

    This proposed footnote would grant primary status to ESAA in the 
14.0-14.5 GHz band, and as a ministerial matter, would consolidate the 
text from footnotes NG54, NG183, and NG187, which the Commission 
proposes to eliminate. The Commission requests comment on these 
proposals, including on all costs and benefits. Further, the Commission 
also seeks comment on whether changing ESAA operations in the uplink 
band from secondary status

[[Page 14953]]

to primary status requires any adjustment to our technical rules.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analyses

    The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking contains no new or modified 
information collection requirements as it merely proposes a change to 
the Table of Allocations.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended 
(RFA), the Commission has prepared this present Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities by the policies and rules 
proposed in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in IB Docket No. 12-376. 
Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be 
identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines 
specified in the NPRM for comments.
    The NPRM seeks to promote innovative and flexible use of satellite 
technology to provide advanced communications capabilities from earth 
stations that would operate on board aircraft as a licensed application 
of the Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) in the 10.95-11.2 GHz, 11.45-11.7 
GHz, 11.7-12.2 GHz, and 14.0-14.5 GHz bands within the United States. 
This application is called Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (ESAA). The 
NPRM seeks comment on a proposal to elevate the allocation status of 
ESAA in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band from secondary to primary.
    The proposed action is authorized pursuant to sections 1, 2, 4(i), 
301, 302, 303, and 324 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 
47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 301, 302, 303, and 324.
    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 rules adopted herein. The RFA generally defines the 
term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ``small 
business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term ``small business concern'' under the Small Business 
Act. A small business concern is one that: (1) Is independently owned 
and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) 
satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business 
Administration (SBA).
    Two economic census categories address the satellite industry. The 
first category has a small business size standard of $15 million or 
less in average annual receipts, under SBA rules. The second has a size 
standard of $25 million or less in annual receipts. The category of 
Satellite Telecommunications ``comprises establishments primarily 
engaged in providing telecommunications services to other 
establishments in the telecommunications and broadcasting industries by 
forwarding and receiving communications signals via a system of 
satellites or reselling satellite telecommunications.'' Census Bureau 
data for 2007 show that 512 Satellite Telecommunications firms that 
operated for that entire year. Of this total, 464 firms had annual 
receipts of under $10 million, and 18 firms had receipts of $10 million 
to $24,999,999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the 
majority of Satellite Telecommunications firms are small entities that 
might be affected by our action.
    The second category, i.e., ``All Other Telecommunications'' 
comprises ``establishments primarily engaged in providing specialized 
telecommunications services, such as satellite tracking, communications 
telemetry, and radar station operation. This industry also includes 
establishments primarily engaged in providing satellite terminal 
stations and associated facilities connected with one or more 
terrestrial systems and capable of transmitting telecommunications to, 
and receiving telecommunications from, satellite systems. For this 
category, Census Bureau data for 2007 show that there were a total of 
2,383 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 2,347 
firms had annual receipts of under $25 million and 12 firms had annual 
receipts of $25 million to $49,999,999. Consequently, the Commission 
estimates that the majority of All Other Telecommunications firms are 
small entities that might be affected by our action.
    Commission records reveal that there are approximately 20 space 
station licensees and operators in the 10.95-11.2 GHz, 11.45-11.7 GHz, 
11.7-12.2 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz bands. We do not request or collect 
annual revenue information concerning such licensees and operators, and 
thus are unable to estimate the number of geostationary space station 
licensees and operators that would constitute a small business under 
the SBA definition cited above, or apply any rules providing special 
consideration for geostationary space station licensees and operators 
that are small businesses.
    Currently there are approximately 2,879 operational Fixed-Satellite 
Service transmit/receive earth stations authorized for use in the band. 
The Commission does not request or collect annual revenue information, 
and thus is unable to estimate the number of earth stations that would 
constitute a small business under the SBA definition.
    The rules proposed here merely propose a change to the Table of 
Frequency Allocations, and therefore the Commission does not project 
any new reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements for 
the licensees.
    The RFA requires that, to the extent consistent with the objectives 
of applicable statutes, the analysis shall discuss significant 
alternatives such as: (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 and 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.
    The NPRM solicits comment on alternatives to elevation of the 
status of ESAA in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band to primary status.

Ordering Clauses

    It is further ordered that pursuant to the authority contained in 
sections 4(i), 303(j), and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as 
amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 154(j), 303(j), and 303(r) the Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking in IB Docket No. 12-376 is adopted.
    It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center SHALL SEND a 
copy of the related Report and Order and this Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, including the final regulatory flexibility analysis and 
initial regulatory flexibility analysis, to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration, in accordance with 
section 603(a) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 2

    Frequency allocations.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.
    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 2 as follows:

[[Page 14954]]

PART 2--FREQUENCY ALLOCATIONS AND RADIO TREATY MATTERS; GENERAL 
RULES AND REGULATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 2 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, and 336, unless otherwise 
noted.

0
2. Amend Sec.  2.106, the Table of Frequency Allocations, as follows:
0
a. Pages 47 and 49 are revised.
0
b. In the list of non-Federal Government (NG) Footnotes, footnote NG55 
is revised and footnotes NG54, NG183 and NG187 are removed.
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  2.106  Table of Frequency Allocations.

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[[Page 14956]]


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Non-Federal Government (NG) Footnotes

* * * * *
    NG55 In the bands 11.7-12.2 GHz (space-to-Earth) and 14-14.5 GHz 
(Earth-to-space), Earth Stations on Vessels (ESV), Vehicle-Mounted 
Earth Stations (VMES), and Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (ESAA) as 
regulated under 47 CFR part 25 are applications of the fixed-satellite 
service and may be authorized to communicate with geostationary 
satellites in the fixed-satellite service on a primary basis.
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[FR Doc. 2013-04429 Filed 3-7-13; 8:45 am]
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