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Expanding Access to In-Flight Broadband and Encouraging Innovation

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Released: May 9, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-66

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Expanding Access to Broadband and Encouraging
)
GN Docket No. 13-114
Innovation through Establishment of an Air-
)
RM-11640
Ground Mobile Broadband Secondary Service for
)
Passengers Aboard Aircraft in the 14.0-14.5 GHz
)
Band
)

NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

Adopted: May 9, 2013

Released: May 9, 2013

Comment Date: (45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)
Reply Comment Date: (75 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)

By the Commission: Chairman Genachowski and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel and Pai issuing
separate statements; Commissioner McDowell not participating.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-66

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Expanding Access to Broadband and Encouraging
)
GN Docket No. 13-114
Innovation through Establishment of an Air-
)
RM-11640
Ground Mobile Broadband Secondary Service for
)
Passengers Aboard Aircraft in the 14.0-14.5 GHz
)
Band
)

NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

Adopted: May 9, 2013

Released: May 9, 2013

Comment Date: (45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)
Reply Comment Date: (75 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)

By the Commission: Chairman Genachowski and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel and Pai issuing
separate statements; Commissioner McDowell not participating.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Paragraph #
I. INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................................. 1
II. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.................................................................................................................... 2
III. BACKGROUND.................................................................................................................................. 10
A. Qualcomm’s Petition for Rulemaking ........................................................................................... 10
B. Spectrum Needs ............................................................................................................................. 12
C. The 14.0-14.5 GHz Band ............................................................................................................... 14
IV. DISCUSSION ...................................................................................................................................... 16
A. The Public Interest in Air-Ground Mobile Broadband .................................................................. 16
B. Qualcomm’s Proposed Air-Ground Mobile Broadband System ................................................... 18
C. Allocation in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band ........................................................................................... 27
D. Coordination .................................................................................................................................. 31
1. Coordination with the Space Research Service in the 14.0-14.2 GHz Band........................... 33
2. Coordination with Radio Astronomy Service Stations in the 14.47-14.5 GHz Band ............. 39
a. Coordination Procedure...................................................................................................... 40
b. Existing RAS Facilities ...................................................................................................... 44
3. Coordination with Other Federal Secondary Services (Fixed and Mobile) in the 14.4-
14.5 GHz Band........................................................................................................................ 45
4. Proposed Footnotes to the U.S. Table of Allocations.............................................................. 46
E. Regulatory Issues........................................................................................................................... 47
1. Permitted Uses......................................................................................................................... 47
2. Regulatory Framework............................................................................................................ 52
3. Regulatory Status .................................................................................................................... 54
F. Licensing and Operating Rules...................................................................................................... 56
1. Assignment of Licenses........................................................................................................... 56

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FCC 13-66

2. Spectrum Blocks...................................................................................................................... 57
3. Service Areas........................................................................................................................... 62
4. Ownership Restrictions ........................................................................................................... 66
5. License Term, Performance Requirements, Renewal Criteria, and Permanent
Discontinuance of Operations ................................................................................................. 71
6. Secondary Markets.................................................................................................................. 87
7. Other Operating Requirements................................................................................................ 92
G. Procedures for 14.0-14.5 GHz Band Licenses Subject to Assignment by Competitive
Bidding........................................................................................................................................... 94
1. Application of Part 1 Competitive Bidding Rules................................................................... 95
2. Provisions for Designated Entities .......................................................................................... 96
H. Technical Rules............................................................................................................................ 101
1. Air-Ground Mobile Broadband System Parameters and Assumptions ................................. 101
2. Protecting GSO FSS Satellite Systems from Harmful Interference from Air-Ground
Mobile Broadband................................................................................................................. 103
3. Potential Interference into NGSO Satellites from an Air-Ground Mobile Broadband
System ................................................................................................................................... 105
4. Technical Rules to Protect TDRSS ....................................................................................... 106
5. Technical Rules to Promote Sharing With RAS ................................................................... 109
6. Emission Power Reduction in Air-Ground Mobile Broadband Base Stations Near the
Southern Border of the United States.................................................................................... 110
7. EIRP Density Limits Along the GSO Arc from 45° W.L. to 150° W.L. .............................. 111
8. Aircraft Antenna Power Limits and Pointing Toward the GSO Arc..................................... 113
9. Compensation for Rain Fade................................................................................................. 115
10. Off-Axis EIRP Density in Directions Other than Along the GSO Arc ................................. 116
11. Out-of-Band Emissions for Two Adjacent Air-Ground Mobile Broadband Systems........... 117
12. Mitigating the Effects of Interference into Air-Ground Mobile Broadband
Operations…………… ............................................................................................. ………118
I. Regulation of Air-Ground Mobile Broadband Operations on U.S.-Registered and Non-
U.S.-Registered Aircraft .............................................................................................................. 119
J. Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act................................................................ 124
V. CONCLUSION .................................................................................................................................. 125
VI. PROCEDURAL MATTERS.............................................................................................................. 126
1. Regulatory Flexibility Act ........................................................................................................... 126
2. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995............................................................................................... 127
3. Ex Parte Rules ............................................................................................................................. 128
4. Filing Requirements..................................................................................................................... 129
VII. ORDERING CLAUSES................................................................................................................... 133
APPENDIX A – Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
APPENDIX B – Proposed Rules

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
By this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice), the Commission proposes to further
increase the availability of broadband services onboard airplanes by establishing an air-ground mobile
broadband service by which passengers aboard civil and government aircraft can connect to a full range
of communications services while flying over the contiguous United States.1 Consumers increasingly

1 For the purposes of this rulemaking, the “contiguous United States” or “CONUS” is the United States excluding
Alaska, Hawaii, and island territories.
2

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FCC 13-66

demand ubiquitous broadband connectivity, even on airplanes. Demand continues to rise, with
predictions that the number of aircraft offering broadband service will rise from approximately 3000 in
2012 to 15,000 by 2021.2 Establishment of air-ground mobile broadband service could help satisfy this
demand. This air-ground mobile broadband service would operate in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, on a
secondary, non-interference basis with Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) Earth-to-space communications.
The key to such band sharing is spatial diversity, with FSS earth station antennas oriented to the south and
above the horizon, air-ground mobile broadband base stations oriented to the north, and air-ground mobile
broadband aircraft stations oriented below the horizon. Air-ground mobile broadband would be required
to protect primary FSS in the band from harmful interference, and would be required to accommodate
other Federal and non-Federal users in the band. We ground our proposals in this proceeding in part on
the service proposed by Qualcomm, Inc. (Qualcomm) in a Petition for Rulemaking filed on July 7, 2011.3
We believe our proposal would significantly increase the amount of spectrum available for the provision
of wireless broadband to airborne aircraft, helping to meet rising demand for such services.

II.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

2.
In this Notice, we propose to establish a new, terrestrial-based air-ground mobile
broadband service with aircraft in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band. The service would provide multi-gigabit
broadband connectivity to aircraft flying within the contiguous United States. The service is intended for
the business and personal use of passengers aboard aircraft, and will have no role in aeronautical
operations or as a safety of life and property service.
3.
The Qualcomm Petition asks the Commission to add a secondary mobile allocation in the
14.0-14.5 GHz band and adopt service rules to support air-ground mobile broadband operations.
Qualcomm presents with its plan for air-ground mobile broadband in the band an engineering study for
avoiding harmful interference to primary and co-secondary services in the band, and proposed technical
and licensing rules. In this Notice, we propose an allocation, service rules, and technical rules for air-
ground mobile broadband, based largely on the Qualcomm Petition.
4.
The 14.0-14.5 GHz band is allocated on a primary basis to the FSS as an uplink (Earth-
to-space) band for geostationary orbit (GSO) FSS operations. The air-ground mobile broadband service
would operate on a secondary basis to GSO satellite systems and future non-geostationary orbit (NGSO)
satellite systems, and on a co-secondary basis with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) that operates under a Federal Fixed Service
(FS) and Mobile Service (MS) allocation. In addition to coordinating with NASA TDRSS in the 14.0-
14.2 GHz band, we propose that air-ground mobile broadband would also be required to coordinate with
Radio Astronomy Service (RAS) users in the 14.47-14.5 GHz band, in accordance with the procedures set
forth for other services in this band. To implement this service, we propose to amend Part 2 of the rules
to add a secondary allocation in the non-Federal Aeronautical Mobile Service (AMS) for air-ground
mobile broadband in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band.
5.
We propose that under the rules we implement for the 14.0-14.5 GHz band to support the
new allocation, we would require a licensee to use this spectrum for air-ground mobile broadband only.
We also seek comment regarding the appropriate regulatory framework for the proposed provision of
service. We seek comment on our proposal to classify the services as Commercial Mobile Radio Service
(CMRS) given the proposed air-ground use of the spectrum. With respect to whether and how to

2 See J. Meyers, Next in spectrum wars: Broadband for airplanes, Politico, Jan. 28, 2013, at
www.politico.com/story/2013/01/next-in-spectrum-wars-broadband-for-airplanes-86843.html (visited Mar. 12,
2013).
3 Qualcomm, Petition for Rulemaking, RM-11640, filed July 7, 2011 (Qualcomm Petition).
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FCC 13-66

apportion the spectrum, we seek comment on Qualcomm’s proposal to create two 250 megahertz licenses
as well as on alternate approaches such as licensing the entire 500 megahertz of spectrum to a single
licensee or dividing the spectrum into more than two blocks. Given the proposed air-ground use of the
band, we propose to license the spectrum on a nationwide basis.4 We also seek comment on whether to
adopt an open eligibility standard and whether to adopt any specific aggregation limits applicable to the
initial licensing of the band.
6.
Taking into consideration the air-ground mobile broadband service being proposed for
the band, we seek comment on a proposal to require a new licensee to meet a substantial service
performance requirement at the end of a proposed ten-year license term. We believe that, given the need
for seamless broadband service to aircraft and the necessary operation of a large number of base stations,
a ten-year period is appropriate. In order to provide licensees with guidance in terms of how to satisfy
their substantial service obligations, we propose that a licensee will be able to satisfy substantial service if
it constructs and operates base stations that provide robust, uninterrupted service on routes serving at least
50 airports classified as large or medium hubs. We seek comment on this safe harbor and alternatives that
may represent more appropriate safe harbors.
7.
To the extent that we adopt a geographic licensing scheme for the 14.0-14.5 GHz band,
and permit the filing of mutually exclusive applications, we seek comment on a number of proposals
relating to competitive bidding. We propose that the Commission conduct an auction in conformity with
the general competitive bidding rules set forth in Part 1, Subpart Q, of the Commission’s rules, and seek
comment regarding bidding credits for small businesses.
8.
We propose technical rules based on the technical description of FSS systems and
Qualcomm’s proposed air-ground mobile broadband system found in the Qualcomm Petition. The goal
of these technical rules is to ensure that any air-ground mobile broadband system that we may authorize
in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band will not cause harmful interference to FSS systems. For the same reason, we
propose requirements for air-ground mobile broadband to coordinate its operations with Federal FS and
MS licensees, and with TDRSS sites and RAS observatories in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band.
9.
Because Canada is the country most likely to be affected by air-ground mobile broadband
base or aircraft stations, we propose to require aircraft flying in Canadian airspace to terminate operations
while they are in Canadian airspace, until such time as Canada may authorize air-ground mobile
broadband or authorize aircraft in Canadian airspace to use U.S.-licensed air-ground mobile broadband.
We do not address any other country, such as Mexico, because air-ground mobile broadband base stations
will not radiate sufficient signal into any other country such that the service could operate successfully.
Thus, air-ground mobile broadband will not be able to operate in the airspace of any other country. We
also propose to permit non-U.S. registered aircraft to contract with air-ground mobile broadband licensees
for air-ground mobile broadband equipment and service, to be used when they are over the contiguous
United States. Finally, we address the applicability of the Communications Assistance to Law
Enforcement Act (CALEA) to air-ground mobile broadband licensees.

III.

BACKGROUND

A.

Qualcomm’s Petition for Rulemaking

10.
The Qualcomm Petition asks the Commission to initiate a proceeding to establish a new,
terrestrial-based air-ground mobile broadband service in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, providing multi-gigabit
broadband connectivity to aircraft flying within the contiguous United States.5 Qualcomm seeks a

4 In this Notice, “nationwide” refers to the contiguous United States as defined in note 1.
5 Qualcomm Petition.
4

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FCC 13-66

secondary mobile allocation in the U.S. Table of Allocations that would support a commercial, bi-
directional air-ground mobile broadband service, as well as rules under which such a service would
operate. It proposes that the Commission conduct an auction of two 250 megahertz licenses at 14.0-14.25
GHz and 14.25-14.50 GHz, but not restrict a single entity from purchasing both licenses to construct a
single, more robust 500 megahertz system.
11.
Twelve parties filed comments in response to the Qualcomm Petition, and four parties
filed reply comments.6 On May 15, 2012, the Commission’s International Bureau issued a Public Notice
seeking further comment on the Qualcomm Petition.7 Four parties filed comments in response to this
Public Notice, and two parties filed reply comments.8 In addition, Commission staff held a series of
meetings with Qualcomm and satellite industry representatives on potential interference from an air-
ground mobile broadband service into the FSS, as well as the potential risk that FSS users might cause
harmful interference to air-ground mobile broadband users.9

B.

Spectrum Needs

12.
The Commission has recognized the need for more broadband spectrum in the United
States. The National Broadband Plan called for an additional 500 megahertz of spectrum to be made
available for broadband by the year 2020.10 To meet this goal and the growing demand for broadband,
the Commission has been aggressively seeking new ways to make additional spectrum available by taking
actions including reallocating services, encouraging current services to adopt more spectrum-efficient
methods of communication, and taking advantage of technical innovations to increase the ability of
multiple users to share spectrum.
13.
One technical method by which otherwise incompatible services can share spectrum
bands is spatial diversity, a method by which two or more services share spectrum by covering different
areas, or by designing antennas to point in different directions, among other techniques. Spatial diversity
allows more re-use of spectrum and serves as a spectrum multiplier. The Commission has taken
advantage of spatial diversity to allow spectrum sharing in several cases.11

6 Alcatel-Lucent; American Airlines, Inc. (American Airlines); the American Petroleum Institute (API); Boeing
Company (Boeing); Delta Air Lines, Inc. (Delta); Gogo, Inc. (Gogo); Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic);
Qualcomm; Row 44, Inc. (Row 44); the Satellite Industry Association (SIA); United Airlines (United); and Virgin
America, Inc. (Virgin America) filed comments in response to the Qualcomm Petition (hereafter cited as PR
Comments). Panasonic, Qualcomm, Row 44, and Honeywell filed reply comments (hereafter cited as PR Replies).
7 International Bureau Seeks Further Comment on Qualcomm Petition for Rulemaking, RM-11640, Public Notice,
DA 12-767, 27 FCC Rcd 5223 (2012).
8 The Committee on Radio Frequencies of the National Academy of Science (CORF), the National Radio
Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), Qualcomm, and Row 44 filed comments in response to the Public Notice
(hereafter cited as PN Comments), and Boeing and Qualcomm filed reply comments (hereafter cited as PN Replies).
9 See, e.g., letters from John W. Kuzin, Senior Director, Government Affairs-Regulatory, Qualcomm, to Secretary,
FCC, RM-11640, May 4, 2012; Sep. 14, 2012; Oct. 2, 2012; Jan. 18, 2013; letters from Patricia Cooper, President,
SIA, to Secretary, FCC, RM-11640, Aug. 31, 2012; Feb. 8, 2013.
10 See National Broadband Plan, § 5.4.
11 See, e.g., Amendment of Parts 2, 25 and 97 of the Commission’s Rules with Regard to the Mobile-Satellite Service
Above 1 GHz
, ET Docket No. 98-142, Report and Order, 17 FCC Rcd 2658, 2678, ¶44 (2002); Amendment of Parts
2 and 25 of the Commission’s Rules to Permit Operation of NGSO FSS Systems Co-Frequency with GSO and
Terrestrial Systems in the Ku-Band Frequency Range
, ET Docket 98-206, First Report and Order and Further Notice
of Proposed Rule Making, 16 FCC Rcd 4096, 4193, ¶ 259 (2000).
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C.

The 14.0-14.5 GHz Band

14.
The 14.0-14.5 GHz band is an uplink (Earth-to-space) band for FSS operations, paired
with the 11.7- 12.2 GHz band for downlink (space-to-Earth) FSS communications. GSO FSS systems
operate on a primary basis in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band.12 Generally, U.S.-licensed GSO FSS space
stations operating in this band are spaced approximately two degrees apart along the geostationary orbit.13
Two-degree spacing (rather than the three-degree spacing used by other nations) required the adoption of
stringent limits on the off-axis gain of an earth station antenna pointed toward space stations other than
the target space station. There are also non-U.S. licensed satellites adjacent to U.S.-licensed satellites in
the GSO arc that may serve the U.S. market or other regions in the Americas.14 Traditionally, to meet the
technical constraints necessary in a two-degree orbital spacing environment, earth stations have utilized
narrow-beam transmissions and carefully pointed at the space stations with which they communicate.15
Earth stations in the GSO FSS operate from fixed positions (or from fixed points within a specified area)
or on a mobile basis. Over the past several years, the band has been cleared of all non-Federal terrestrial
services, which has allowed the FSS to innovate in an environment free of interference from other
services with different operational and technical characteristics.16
15.
The primary FSS allocation in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band also permits earth stations, both
gateway earth stations and user terminals, to communicate with NGSO satellite systems, though there are
no planned NGSO systems in these bands. Additionally the band is allocated on a secondary basis to the
Mobile-Satellite Service (MSS).17 The 14.4-14.5 GHz segment is further allocated on a secondary basis
to the FS and MS, limited to Federal users. Our review of the Federal assignments that authorize
operations in this band shows 13 Federal assignments for fixed stations18 and 12 assignments in the MS.19

12 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.106.
13 See generally Licensing of Space Stations in the Domestic Fixed-Satellite Service and Related Revisions of Part
25 of the Rules and Regulations
, CC Docket No. 81-704, Report and Order, 54 Rad. Reg. 2d (P&F) 577 (1983)
(adopting 2º orbital spacing policy to maximize the number of in-orbit satellites operating in the Ku- and C-bands);
on reconsideration, 99 F.C.C. 2d 737 (1985). See also 2000 Biennial Regulatory Review – Streamlining and Other
Revisions of Part 25 of the Commission’s Rules Governing the Licensing of, and Spectrum Usage By, Satellite
Network Earth Stations and Space Stations; Amendment of Part 25 of the Commission’s Rules and Regulations to
Reduce Alien Carrier Interference Between Fixed-Satellites at Reduced Orbital Spacings and to Revise Application
Procedures for Satellite Communication Services
, IB Docket No. 00-248, CC Docket No. 86-496, Fifth Report and
Order in IB Docket No. 00-248 and Third Report and Order in CC Docket No. 86-496, 20 FCC Rcd 5666, 5674, ¶
17 (2005) (Streamlining Fifth Report and Order).
14 See the Space Station Permitted List at www.fcc.gov/ib/sd/se/permitted.html (visited Apr. 4, 2013) for satellites
that may serve the U.S. market.
15 See, e.g., Revisions to Part 2 and 25 of the Commission’s Rules to Govern the Use of Earth Stations Aboard
Aircraft Communicating with Fixed-Satellite Service Geostationary-Orbit Space Stations Operating in the 10.95-
11.2 GHz, 11.45-11.7 GHz, 11.7-12.2 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz Frequency Bands
, IB Docket No. 12-376, Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking and Report and Order, FCC 12-161, 27 FCC Rcd 16510, ¶ 6 (2012) (ESAA Report and
Order
).
16 The most recent action occurred in 2012. All licenses for land mobile stations in the 14.2-14.4 GHz band had
expired, and therefore the Commission removed Footnote NG184 from the U.S. Table of Allocations. Footnote
NG184 had permitted land mobile stations in the band to continue operating until their licenses expired. ESAA
Report and Order
, 27 FCC Rcd at 16522, note 58.
17 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.106.
18 These fixed stations are authorized necessary bandwidths of 15 MHz (2 assignments), 18 MHz (3), 22 MHz (4),
28 MHz (2), or 32 MHz (2), and are located in eight locations of various population density: Brooklyn, NY;
(continued….)
6

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The 14.0-14.2 GHz segment of the band is used by TDRSS on a secondary basis.20 The 14.47-14.5 GHz
segment serves RAS on a permissive basis.21

IV.

DISCUSSION

A.

The Public Interest in Air-Ground Mobile Broadband

16.
The demand for mobile broadband connectivity continues to grow rapidly.22 This
includes demand for mobile broadband aboard aircraft. To meet this demand, in 2005, the Commission
reconfigured the Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service 800 MHz band to provide four megahertz of
spectrum for broadband service to passengers aboard aircraft.23 The WTB recently found that permitting
the aggregation and assignment of 800 MHz air-ground spectrum would make more productive use of
that band and expand the public’s access to wireless telecommunications and broadband service on board
aircraft.24 In 2012 we authorized Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (ESAA) to provide broadband service to
passengers aboard aircraft via FSS.25 Unfortunately, current broadband options for aircraft passengers
generally carry a premium price and offer substantially lower speeds than terrestrial broadband.26
(Continued from previous page)
Oakland, CA; El Paso, TX; Huntsville, AL; Warner Robins, GA; Columbus, NM: Eagle Mountain, CA; and Nevada
Test Site, NV.
19 In the MS, there is one assignment for mobile stations (microwave data links may transmit within 50 km of
Miramar, CA, using a necessary bandwidth of 22 MHz), one assignment for surface telemetering mobile stations
(vans within 6 km of Edwards, CA, using a bandwidth of 40 MHz), and ten assignments in the Federal aeronautical
mobile service (AMS). Seven of the AMS assignments are band assignments that authorize the use of frequencies
within the 14.4-14.83 GHz segment (emissions range from 800 kHz to 295 MHz). Specifically, aircraft stations (in
the AMS) may transmit: (1) within the listed radius of coordinates in China Lake, CA (463 km); Edwards, CA (240
km); Palmdale, CA (15 km); San Diego, CA (15 km); Dugway Proving Ground, UT (225 km); Patuxent River, MD
(200 km); and Smokey Hill, KS (161 km); (2) certain coastal waters of Washington State; and (3) on military
reservations in Arizona (UAV testing). Aeronautical (or ground) stations (in the AMS) may transmit within the
aforementioned radii of Edwards, Palmdale, and San Diego.
20 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.106.
21 See id., Footnote US203.
22 Cisco Systems, Inc. predicts that the demand for mobile broadband will increase eighteenfold between 2011 and
2016. See Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2011-2016, May 30, 2012, available at
www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/collateral/ns341/ns525/ns537/ns705/ns827/white_paper_c11-
481360_ns827_Networking_Solutions_White_Paper.html (visited Apr. 16, 2013).
23 See Amendment of Part 22 of the Commission’s Rules to Benefit the Consumers of Air-Ground
Telecommunications Services
, WT Docket No. 03-103, Report and Order, FCC 04-287, 20 FCC Rcd 4403 (2005).
24 See Application of AC BidCo, LLC, Gogo Inc., and LiveTV, LLC, For Consent To Assign Commercial Aviation
Air-Ground Radiotelephone (800 MHz band) License, Call Sign WQFX729,
WT Docket No. 12-155, Memorandum
Opinion and Order, DA 13-570 (WTB rel. March 29, 2013). The 800 MHz air-ground band is comprised of a 3
MHz block and a 1 MHz block, and is subject to a spectrum aggregation limit which prevents one licensee from
holding more than three megahertz. See 47 C.F.R. § 22.853. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau waived this
restriction, finding it in the public interest to permit AC BidCo, LLC (Gogo Inc), the 3 MHz block licensee, to
acquire the remaining spectrum block.
25 See ESAA Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 16510.
26 See, e.g., S. Higginbotham, Why your in-flight WiFi is slow and expensive: It’s all about the pipe, Sep. 19, 2012,
at gigaom.com/2012/09/19/why-your-in-flight-wi-fi-is-slow-and-expensive-its-all-about-the-pipe (visited Mar. 12,
2013).
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However, more options for broadband for aircraft passengers are likely to increase competition, improve
the quality of service, and lead to lower prices for broadband aboard aircraft.
17.
Increased broadband aboard aircraft will lead to improved connectivity for business and
leisure travelers alike. Business travelers will have a greater ability to message, research and download
information, and send finished products. Leisure travelers will have greater options to use broadband to
communicate with friends and family members, use social media, play games, and research their
destinations or other areas of interest.

B.

Qualcomm’s Proposed Air-Ground Mobile Broadband System

18.
The air-ground mobile broadband system Qualcomm proposes would use time-division
duplex (TDD) communications to provide a link between base stations and aircraft. Within each aircraft,
communications would be carried to and from passengers’ personal broadband devices by short-range
links such as WiFi. Qualcomm claims that 500 megahertz of spectrum at 14.0-14.5 GHz can sustain data
rates of 300 gigabits per second.27
19.
The air-ground mobile broadband system would rely on spatial diversity to enable it to
share the 14.0-14.5 GHz band with FSS. Simply put, because all of the satellite systems currently
operating in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band use GSO satellites, which orbit over the equator, all satellite
antennas in the United States must point south of an east-west line at each antenna’s location.
Qualcomm’s base stations would all be located at or near the southern points of hexagonal service areas,
and their antennas would point north, with a 120-degree arc of radio energy emission. According to
Qualcomm, this spatial diversity, coupled with antenna design features to control power so that the base
station emits lower power as the vertical angle increases, will allow the base stations to operate without
causing harmful interference to satellite reception of signals from FSS earth stations.28 Qualcomm asserts
that spatial diversity, as well as other engineering techniques, would also protect FSS satellites from
interference from the air-ground mobile broadband stations aboard aircraft. The antennas aboard aircraft
would be pointing down, i.e., below the horizon from the aircraft, where FSS earth stations antennas point
up, i.e., above the horizon from the FSS earth station. Qualcomm states that this factor, combined with
lower power from air-ground mobile broadband stations aboard aircraft than from air-ground mobile
broadband base stations, would protect FSS satellites from harmful interference.29 Qualcomm further
states that a combination of techniques including beam steering, base station handoff, and assigning
frequencies intelligently will mitigate interference from FSS earth stations into air-ground mobile
broadband base stations.30
20.
Qualcomm also claims that its proposed system will not cause harmful interference to
any future NGSO FSS systems that we may license. First, Qualcomm notes that there are no NGSO FSS
systems currently operating or planned that would use the 14.0-14.5 GHz band.31 Moreover, Qualcomm
proposes that air-ground mobile broadband service in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band operate on a secondary
basis to GSO satellite systems, future NGSO satellite systems, the NASA TDRSS facilities, and RAS
users.32 Qualcomm also states that its proposed system was designed “from the ground up” to avoid

27 See Qualcomm Petition at 14.
28 See id. at 15.
29 See id. at 18.
30 See Qualcomm PR Reply at A4-A5.
31 See Qualcomm Petition at 17.
32 See id. at 13.
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harmful interference to both GSO and potential NGSO FSS satellite systems, as well as TDRSS and RAS
systems.33
21.
Qualcomm proposes that air-ground mobile broadband in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band be
licensed by auction on a CONUS basis in two frequency blocks, 14.0-14.25 GHz and 14.25-14.5 GHz,
but that the Commission allow a single entity to purchase licenses for both blocks if it so chooses, in
order to provide a more robust and higher-capacity system.34
22.
Qualcomm maintains that the aggregate interference from the proposed air-ground
mobile broadband system to GSO FSS satellites would be at most negligible (less than one percent ∆T/T,
or rise over thermal).35 It states that interference from the FSS to the air-ground mobile broadband system
would occur, but that the air-ground mobile broadband licensee could mitigate that interference through
system designs.36
23.
Several commenters argue that we should dismiss the Qualcomm Petition. First,
commenters assert that we should not take up the possibility of air-ground mobile broadband until we
have resolved the issue of whether FSS should be allowed to provide service to aircraft.37 Because we
established licensing and technical rules for ESAA last year, this argument is moot.38
24.
Several commenters also argue that we should dismiss the Qualcomm Petition because it
fails to demonstrate a public interest need for air-ground mobile broadband. These commenters rely on
Commission precedent where we denied petitions for rulemaking based on hypothetical scenarios39 or
petitioners’ failure to present sufficient information to justify the need for rulemaking and to show that
there was no risk of harmful interference.40 These commenters assert that the rules Qualcomm proposes
do not provide a sufficient basis for consideration, citing our rule that petitions for rulemaking shall set
forth the text or substance of proposed rules.41
25.
We are not persuaded by these arguments. Qualcomm and other commenters (including
Gogo, the current provider of an air-ground service similar to air-ground mobile broadband, the airlines
that may be customers of air-ground mobile broadband, and a provider of satellite-based communications
to aircraft) all cite extensive research and commentary that indicate the market for mobile broadband is
expanding rapidly and passengers aboard aircraft want mobile broadband access in flight.42 The
information presented makes a threshold case that we should consider the Qualcomm proposal because it
offers a means to increase access to in-flight broadband connectivity. Further, Qualcomm has presented a

33 See id. at 17-18.
34 See id. at 19.
35 See, e.g., Qualcomm PR Reply at A2-A6; Qualcomm PN Reply at 9-10.
36 See id.
37 See Boeing Comments to Petition for Rulemaking (PR Comments) at 4-6; Panasonic PR Comments at 6-7; Row
44 PR Comments at 2-3; SIA PR Comments at 9-10.
38 See ESAA Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 16510.
39 See SIA PR Comments at 6; Panasonic PR Comments at 2-3.
40 See SIA PR Comments at 6; Boeing PR Comments at 2-3.
41 See SIA PR Comments at 8 (citing 47 C.F.R. § 1.403(c)).
42 See Qualcomm PR Comments at 3-6; American Airlines PR Comments at 2; Delta PR Comments at 2; United PR
Comments; Virgin America PR Comments; Gogo PR Comments at 5-6; Honeywell PR Reply.
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substantial engineering analysis of the potential for harmful interference if we permit air-ground mobile
broadband in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, and of how that potential interference can be mitigated.43
Qualcomm also has presented sufficient technical information to initiate this rulemaking proceeding.
Finally, the Qualcomm Petition proposed rules, including proposals for service definitions, an allocation
of spectrum, and technical rules to prevent harmful interference.44 While these proposed rules are not
exhaustive, they lay sufficient groundwork to consider the Qualcomm Petition in this Notice.
26.
In this Notice, we propose to amend our rules to permit two-way air-ground mobile
broadband service in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, which will allow for the provision of broadband data
services to passengers aboard aircraft. As discussed below, we propose to amend Part 2 of our rules by
adding a secondary allocation for the AMS for non-Federal use in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band and modifying
a footnote to the U.S. Table of Allocations. We also propose licensing and technical rules for air-ground
mobile broadband.

C.

Allocation in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band

27.
We propose to authorize air-ground mobile broadband by adding a secondary allocation
to the 14.0-14.5 GHz band for the AMS for non-Federal use.45 This allocation would be implemented by
adding the entry “Aeronautical Mobile” to the 14.0-14.5 GHz band in the U.S. Table of Allocations in
Part 2 of the rules.46 Secondary status is appropriate for air-ground mobile broadband because of the need
to protect FSS in the band. We note that Qualcomm requested secondary allocation status for its
proposal, and based its technical analysis of interference potential on secondary status for air-ground
mobile broadband. Further, it is essential that we protect FSS in the band from harmful interference. The
14.0-14.5 GHz band is heavily used for satellite applications including television distribution, satellite
newsgathering (SNG), freight tracking systems, business enterprise communications using Very Small
Aperture Terminals (VSAT), direct to home satellite broadband and mobile applications such as Earth
Stations on Vessels (ESV), Vehicle-Mounted Earth Stations (VMES), and ESAA. Many of these services
are blanket licensed. The exact number and locations of blanket-licensed earth stations vary, as blanket
licensing permits a large number of identical earth stations to operate under the same authorization, and
mobile units move around on a frequent basis. The mobility and ubiquity of FSS earth stations in the
band necessitate great caution in preventing harmful interference. Because secondary-status services may
not cause harmful interference to primary-status services,47 and must accept any interference they receive
from primary-status services,48 we propose that secondary status for air-ground mobile broadband is the
appropriate tool for protecting FSS in the band. The 14.0-14.5 GHz band is an Earth-to-space
transmission band to the satellites. Because of this, any air-ground mobile broadband receiving station
would be subject to interference from satellite earth stations that have the right to be located
anywhere. Qualcomm acknowledges this, but has indicated on the record that a system can be built in a
way that can accept this interference from the primary satellite service and still provide acceptable
service.49 In sum, we propose a secondary allocation here, and do not contemplate any way to entertain a

43 See Qualcomm PR Reply at 22 (citing Qualcomm Petition, App. A).
44 See Qualcomm Petition, App. B.
45 Although Qualcomm suggested an MS allocation, we believe that an AMS allocation for air-ground mobile
broadband is the best fit for the service we propose. Our rules define the AMS as, “a mobile service between
aeronautical stations and aircraft stations, or between aircraft stations…” 47 C.F.R. § 2.1.
46 47 C.F.R. § 2.106.
47 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.104(a)(1).
48 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.104(a)(2).
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future request to elevate the status to primary, because co-primary status for air-ground mobile broadband
would likely constrain the ability to blanket license FSS earth stations, and, for example, could prohibit
satellite newsgathering trucks from changing locations to cover news events without prior coordination
with neighboring co-primary air-ground mobile broadband base stations.50 We seek comment on this
proposal.
28.
Because we are proposing a secondary non-Federal AMS allocation for air-ground
mobile broadband, we request comment on the extent to which authorized Federal FS and MS operations
would affect the proposed commercial service and vice versa. We envision that there could be multiple
ways for an air-ground mobile broadband licensee to accommodate co-secondary Federal users, including
coordination prior to operation and incorporating technical specifications to avoid causing harmful
interference to these first-in-time co-secondary users. We invite comment on such procedures, and the
extent to which we should codify specific requirements.
29.
Additionally, we propose to modify existing Footnote US133, which addresses
coordination with RAS and TDRSS stations, to also apply it to air-ground mobile broadband stations.
The text of this footnote is included in paragraph 46, infra, as well as Appendix B. We seek comment on
this proposal.51
30.
This Notice does not propose to create the 14.0-14.5 GHz band as the exclusive band for
air-to-ground communication or to preclude such services in other licensed or unlicensed bands; the
Commission's commitment to entrepreneurship and competition would preclude such an approach.

D.

Coordination

31.
The proposed air-ground mobile broadband service in this band would operate on a
secondary basis in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band. In addition, it would be required to coordinate with
secondary and permissive services that operate in segments of the band, as discussed below. We seek
comment on our proposed coordination procedures below, the impact of the coordination proposals on the
ability to provide air-ground mobile broadband, and any alternate coordination methodologies.
32.
We base our proposals for coordination requirements below on the coordination
requirements we adopted for mobile applications of the FSS: ESV,52 VMES,53 and ESAA.54 These
(Continued from previous page)
49 See Qualcomm Petition at 17-18. See also infra Section IV.H.12.
50 See also SIA ex parte filing (filed May 2, 2013) (SIA May 2, 2013 ex parte) at 4 (stating SIA’s concern that an
air-ground mobile broadband licensee might seek additional regulatory protection beyond secondary status, further
eroding the performance and flexibility of existing and future satellite services).
51 The Utilities Telecom Council and Winchester Cator, LLC filed a Petition for Rulemaking on May 6, 2008,
requesting that the Commission allocate the 14.0-14.5 GHz band on a secondary basis to the FS, for use by critical
infrastructure entities. See Utilities Telecom Council and Winchester Cator, LLC, Petition for Rulemaking to
Establish Rules Governing Critical Infrastructure Industry Fixed Service Operations in the 14.0 – 14.5 GHz Band
,
RM-11429 (UTC-Winchester Petition) (filed May 6, 2008); Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau, Reference
Information Center, Petition for Rulemakings Filed, Public Notice, Report No. 2868 (May 27, 2008). See also
Order Extending Comment Period, RM-11429, 23 FCC Rcd 10497 (2008). The Office of Engineering and
Technology, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and the International Bureau will consider this petition
separately.
52 See Procedures to Govern the Use of Satellite Earth Stations on Board Vessels in the 5925-6425 MHz/3700-4200
MHz Bands and 14.0-14.5 GHz/11.7-12.2 GHz Bands
, IB Docket No. 02-10, Report and Order, FCC 04-286, 20
FCC Rcd 674 (2005) (ESV Order); Order on Reconsideration, 24 FCC Rcd 10369 (2009); Second Order on
Reconsideration, 27 FCC Rcd 8555 (2012).
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services, particularly ESAA, are an appropriate basis for our proposals because they present similar,
though not identical, coordination challenges. They operate in the same 14.0-14.5 GHz band, and like
air-ground mobile broadband, ESAA operates to and from aircraft in flight. Differences include: (1) that
ESV, VMES, and ESAA communications in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band are entirely uplinks to satellites,
while the proposed air-ground mobile broadband will feature communication in both directions between
aircraft stations and base stations in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band; and (2) that ESV, VMES, and ESAA are
applications in the FSS, which enjoys primary status in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, while, for the reasons
discussed in Section IV.C, we propose secondary allocation status for air-ground mobile broadband.
1.

Coordination with the Space Research Service in the 14.0-14.2 GHz Band

33.
The Space Research Service has a secondary allocation in the 14.0-14.2 GHz sub-band.
There currently are two authorized Space Research Service facilities in the United States: the NASA
TDRSS receive facilities located in Guam and White Sands, New Mexico, which operate with frequency
assignments in the 14.0-14.05 GHz band. In addition to these two existing facilities, NASA plans to
establish another TDRSS receive facility at Blossom Point on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. As a
condition of its license, a licensee of other mobile applications – ESV, VMES, and ESAA – operating in
the 14.0-14.2 GHz sub-band within 125 km of a NASA TDRSS earth station site must coordinate through
the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) before beginning operations.55
34.
Qualcomm presents a detailed analysis of how its system would avoid interference to
TDRSS sites from both base stations and airborne stations through a combination of technical parameters,
siting of air-ground mobile broadband base stations, and avoiding operating in the areas immediately
around TDRSS sites.56 No other party has commented on protecting TDRSS from harmful interference
from air-ground mobile broadband operations.
35.
We have established a licensing condition requiring coordination prior to operations for
ESV, VMES, and ESAA. The issues of potential harmful interference and coordination are similar with
air-ground mobile broadband. Accordingly, we propose to require that air-ground mobile broadband
operating in any part of the 14.0-14.2 GHz sub-band within line-of-sight of existing TDRSS sites and the
planned Blossom Point facilities coordinate with NTIA as a prerequisite to operation. Specifically, we
propose to require air-ground mobile broadband licensees proposing to operate in the 14.0-14.2 GHz sub-
band within radio line-of-sight of the White Sands, New Mexico TDRSS receive facility to coordinate
through NTIA before beginning operations.57 Licensees would be required to notify the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau once they had completed coordination. Such notification would be a pre-
requisite to commencing operations.
36.
We observe that the International Bureau has notified ESV, VMES, and ESAA licensees
in the 14.0-14.2 GHz sub-band that they will be required to cease operations within 125 kilometers of the
new Blossom Point facilities, when these facilities have become operational, unless and until the operator
(Continued from previous page)
53 See Amendment of Parts 2 and 25 of the Commission's Rules to Allocate Spectrum and Adopt Service Rules and
Procedures to Govern the Use of Vehicle-Mounted Earth Stations in Certain Frequency Bands Allocated to the
Fixed-Satellite Service
, IB Docket No. 07-101, Report and Order, 24 FCC Rcd 10414 (2009).
54 See ESAA Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 16510.
55 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.106 Footnotes US203, US342; see also 47 C.F.R. §§ 25.227(c) (ESAA), 25.226(c) (VMES),
25.222(c) (ESV).
56 See Qualcomm Petition at A37-A41.
57 There is a second TDRSS receive facility in Guam. If permitted, air-ground mobile broadband will not have
coverage in Guam.
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has reached a coordination agreement with NASA that has been approved by both the Commission and
NTIA.58 We propose to adopt a similar requirement for air-ground mobile broadband licensees.
Therefore, once NTIA notifies the Commission that the Blossom Point facilities are about to become
operational, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau would issue a notice announcing the specific date
for the commencement of operations of the Blossom Point facilities and requiring each air-ground mobile
broadband operator in the 14.0-14.2 GHz sub-band to cease operations within radio line-of-sight of the
new Blossom Point facilities until the air-ground mobile broadband operator has completed a
coordination agreement with NASA, acceptable to both NTIA and the Commission, for the new TDRSS
site. We seek comment on this proposal.
37.
Finally, we recognize that while ESV, VMES, and ESAA are applications in the FSS,
which has primary status in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, we propose secondary status for air-ground mobile
broadband in the band. Thus, while the coordination procedures and technical standards applicable to
ESV, VMES, and ESAA coordination with TDRSS are exceptions to the general rule that secondary
status licensees must accept any interference they receive from primary status licensees,59 air-ground
mobile broadband licensees, by virtue of their secondary status, would already be obligated to avoid
causing harmful interference to primary or earlier-licensed secondary services.60 Nevertheless, we
believe that it would be beneficial to apply the ESV, VMES, and ESAA coordination procedures to air-
ground mobile broadband. Doing so would provide consistent treatment of all these services. It also
would provide a certainty that air-ground mobile broadband licensees would not be permitted to cause
harmful interference to the co-secondary TDRSS facilities planned for Blossom Point without regard to
which operations came first.
38.
We seek comment on these proposals. Are they sufficient to protect TDRSS from
receiving harmful interference from the air-ground mobile broadband service? If not, what further or
alternate measures would be more effective in protecting TDRSS while enabling air-ground mobile
broadband? What would be the effect on air-ground mobile broadband operations of these measures?
2.

Coordination with Radio Astronomy Service Stations in the 14.47-14.5 GHz
Band

39.
As discussed below, we propose to require air-ground mobile broadband licensees in the
14.47-14.5 GHz sub-band within line-of-sight of RAS facilities to coordinate with the National Science
Foundation (NSF) before beginning operations.
a.

Coordination Procedure

40.
The RAS operates in the 14.47-14.5 GHz sub-band on a permissive basis within the
United States, consistent with its worldwide secondary allocation in the International Table of Frequency
Allocations, but does not enjoy formal secondary status in the United States.61 Nonetheless, we
appreciate the importance of the RAS. Our rules require ESV, VMES, and ESAA licensees planning to

58 International Bureau Announces New NASA TDRSS Station Site, Report No. SPB-221, Public Notice, DA 07-
4028, 22 FCC Rcd 17321 (Int’l Bur., 2007). See also 47 C.F.R. §§ 25.227(c) (ESAA), 25.226(c) (VMES),
25.222(c) (ESV).
59 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.104(d)(3)(i-ii).
60 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.104(d)(3)(iii).
61 Internationally, the RAS is allocated on a secondary basis in the 14.47-14.5 GHz band. In the United States,
Footnote US203 of the U.S. Table of Allocations permits RAS use of the 14.47-14.5 GHz frequencies at certain
sites. 47 C.F.R. § 2.106 Footnotes US203, US342.
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operate within the 14.47-14.5 GHz sub-band within line-of-sight of RAS facilities to coordinate with the
NSF before beginning operations.62
41.
To protect RAS facilities from harmful interference, Qualcomm recommends requiring
air-ground mobile broadband licensees to operate under the interference protection rules for the RAS
found in footnotes US203 and US342 to the U.S. Table of Allocations.63 NRAO states that coordination
would be used to establish exclusion zones around RAS sites during periods of RAS operations, and
expressed its approval for such coordination. Nonetheless, NRAO warned that coordination would be
more challenging for air-ground mobile broadband than for ESAA or VMES because air-ground mobile
broadband operations will include downlinks (aircraft-to-base station), while relevant ESAA and VMES
operations are entirely uplinks, and because air-ground mobile broadband base stations would also need
to be coordinated with the RAS.64 CORF agrees with NRAO, and also points out that the speed of aircraft
and the long lines of sight resulting from aircraft altitudes add to the challenges of coordination with the
air-ground mobile broadband service.65
42.
We seek comment on the feasibility of coordination between air-ground mobile
broadband and RAS operations to preclude harmful interference to the RAS. First, we propose that, as a
prerequisite to operation, air-ground mobile broadband operations in the 14.47 -14.5 GHz band be
coordinated with the NSF to resolve any potential concerns regarding radio astronomy facilities. Second,
we note that RAS observations do not occur continually and are usually scheduled in advance. We
propose to encourage NSF and air-ground mobile broadband licensees to negotiate coordination
requirements based upon the actual use of a RAS facility.
43.
We propose that licensees authorized to provide air-ground mobile broadband services
must file the applicable NSF-licensee coordination agreement with the Commission through the Universal
Licensing System as a prerequisite to commencing operations. We seek comment on these proposals,
and any alternate proposals that could ensure that air-ground mobile broadband services take all
practicable steps to coordinate with RAS facilities.
b.

Existing RAS Facilities

44.
We seek comment on requiring air-ground mobile broadband licensees planning to
operate in the 14.47-14.5 GHz sub-band and planning to travel within radio line-of-sight of the radio
astronomy observatories listed in Footnote US203 to coordinate their proposed operations to resolve any
potential interference concerns. In this regard, we also observe that footnote US342 of the U.S. Table of
Allocations states that, in making assignments to stations in the 14.47-14.5 GHz sub-band, among other
bands, we shall take all practicable steps to protect the RAS from harmful interference.
3.

Coordination with Other Federal Secondary Services (Fixed and Mobile) in
the 14.4-14.5 GHz Band

45.
We seek comment on the extent to which the 14.4-14.5 GHz band Federal assignments
are operational and on any technical characteristics of such operations. As discussed above, air-ground
mobile broadband licensees, by virtue of their secondary status, would be obligated to avoid causing

62 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.106 Footnotes US203, US342; see also 47 C.F.R. §§ 25.222(d) (ESV) , 25.226(d) (VMES),
25.227(d) (ESAA).
63 See Qualcomm Petition at A42 (citing 47 C.F.R. § 2.106, Footnotes US203, US342).
64 See NRAO PN Comments at 1-2.
65 See CORF PN Comments at 4-5.
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harmful interference to earlier-deployed secondary services.66 Is it necessary to adopt any technical
requirements or coordination procedures to provide these services with appropriate interference
protections? If so, we invite parties to propose such technical or coordination requirements.
4.

Proposed Footnotes to the U.S. Table of Allocations

46.
In order to implement these proposals, we propose to modify existing footnote US133 to
the U.S. Table of Allocations to apply to the proposed new AMS allocation for air-ground mobile
broadband. The existing footnote sets forth coordination procedures for ESAA operations. We request
comment on this proposal, particularly on whether this footnote is adequate to accomplish our goals.
US133 In the bands 14.0-14.2 GHz and 14.47-14.5 GHz, the following provisions shall apply to
the operations of Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (ESAA) and to the Aeronautical Mobile Service
(AMS):
(a) In the band 14.0-14.2 GHz, ESAA and AMS licensees planning to operate within radio line-
of-sight of the coordinates specified in 47 CFR 25.227(c) are subject to prior coordination with
NTIA in order to minimize harmful interference to the earth stations of NASA's Tracking and
Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS).
(b) In the band 14.47-14.5 GHz, operations within radio line-of-sight of the radio astronomy
stations specified in 47 CFR 25.226(d)(2) are subject to coordination with the National Science
Foundation in accordance with 47 CFR 25.227(d).

E.

Regulatory Issues
1.

Permitted Uses

47.
The Balanced Budget Act of 199767 amended the Communications Act to add section
303(y), which grants the Commission the authority to create multiple allocations within a given spectrum
band, “so as to provide flexibility of use,”68 if: “(1) such use is consistent with international agreements
to which the United States is a party; and (2) the Commission finds, after notice and an opportunity for
public comment, that (A) such an allocation would be in the public interest; (B) such use would not deter
investment in communications services and systems, or technology development; and (C) such use would
not result in harmful interference among users.”69 We seek comment on whether our proposal to provide
a new allocation for the Aeronautical Mobile Service in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band meets the requirements
of Section 303(y).
48.
In addition to increasing the number of allocations in a band under Section 303(y) of the
Act, the Commission has also used other public interest mandates prescribed in Communications Act70 to
increase the flexibility of spectrum use (by, e.g., establishing flexible service rules within the established
allocations for the band). Such measures help ensure that spectrum is put to its most efficient and

66 See 47 C.F.R. 2.104(d)(3)(i-iii).
67 Pub. L. No. 105-33, 111 Stat. 251, 268-69.
68 47 U.S.C. § 303(y).
69 Balanced Budget Act of 1997, 47 U.S.C. § 303(y), Pub. L. No. 105-33, 111 Stat. 251, 268-69.
70 See, e.g., 47 U.S.C. § 303(b) (authorizing the Commission, as the public convenience, interest or necessity
requires, to “[p]rescribe the nature of the service to be rendered by each class of licensed stations and each station
within any class”).
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beneficial use.71 We are mindful, however, that the need to accommodate incumbent services in the 14.0-
14.5 GHz band may limit the flexibility we are able to offer with respect to additional or future uses of the
band.
49.
To the extent that we find that air-ground mobile broadband is feasible in this spectrum,
we seek comment on whether we should limit any new operations to air-ground mobile broadband. We
are aware that the addition of traditional terrestrial services, particularly mobile services, is likely not
appropriate for the 14.0-14.5 GHz band due, for example, to potential interference and poor propagation
for terrestrial mobile services at higher frequencies. Indeed, the range of incumbent uses in the 14.0-14.5
GHz band requires us to be prudent when considering additional services in this band, as any new users
cannot go forward without ensuring the protection of primary FSS operations and first-in secondary
operations, as well as accounting for permitted uses.72
50.
Accordingly, we do not propose to add any new allocation to the 14.0-14.5 GHz band
other than one for AMS, and we propose that within this allocation, our new service-specific rules limit a
licensee’s spectrum use to air-ground mobile broadband. We seek comment on whether this spectrum
should be restricted in this way. If commenters believe that additional uses of this spectrum are
warranted, they should describe why and quantify the costs and benefits of that approach. Commenters
should discuss trade-offs between restricting use in this way and increased flexibility and investment in
technology and new services that might otherwise occur.
51.
We also note that when the Commission revised its rules governing the four megahertz of
dedicated spectrum in the 800 MHz commercial air-ground spectrum band, it limited the spectrum to air-
ground use, choosing not to permit a licensee to provide ancillary land mobile or fixed services in the 800
MHz air-ground spectrum.73 The Commission reasoned that the available dedicated spectrum was limited
and that the public interest would be best served, at that time, by ensuring that the limited spectrum was
devoted to the provision of air-ground services.74 We seek comment on whether limited availability of
spectrum for air-ground use is a reason to limit the 14.0-14.5 GHz band to air-ground mobile broadband
use only.75
2.

Regulatory Framework

52.
In this Notice, we seek comment concerning the appropriate regulatory framework for the
proposed provision of air-ground mobile broadband services in the 14.0-14.5 GHz spectrum band. One
option is to regulate these services by creating a subpart for 14.0-14.5 GHz within Part 27 of our rules.
Part 27 does not prescribe the extensive set of licensing and operating rules found in rule parts applicable
to specific services. Rather, for the services and spectrum bands licensed under it, Part 27, for the most

71 See, e.g., Service Rules for Advanced Wireless Services in the 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz Bands, WT Docket No. 02-
353, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 02-305, 17 FCC Rcd 24135, 24139-40, ¶ 10 (1999) (AWS-1 NPRM),
citing Principles for Reallocation of Spectrum to Encourage the Development of Telecommunications Technologies
for the New Millennium
, Spectrum Policy Statement, 14 FCC Rcd 19868, 19870, ¶ 9 (1999).
72 Footnotes US203 and US342 of the U.S. Table of Allocations provide that practicable steps shall be taken to
avoid or remedy harmful interference to radio astronomy. See 47 C.F.R. § 2.106 Footnotes US203, US342.
73 See Amendment of Part 22 of the Commission’s Rules to Benefit Consumers of Air-Ground Telecommunications
Services, Biennial Regulatory Review – Amendment of Parties 1, 22, and 90 of the Commission’s Rules
, WT Docket
No. 03-103, WT Docket No. 05-02, Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 20 FCC Rcd 4403,
4431, ¶ 53 (2005).
74 See id.
75 See also Section IV.F.4 infra (ownership restrictions).
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part, collectively defines permissible uses and limitations, details technical parameters necessary to
prevent harmful interference, and specifies basic licensing requirements. It does not contain detailed
service rules that are contained in other rule parts, such as Part 22, which may not be needed for air-
ground mobile broadband service.76 We seek comment regarding whether the proposed services should
be regulated pursuant to our Part 27 regulatory framework and, if so, what additional rule provisions
should be included in Part 27 or incorporated by reference.
53.
We note that existing air-ground services in the 800 MHz spectrum band are governed by
Part 22 of the Commission’s rules.77 Given that we are proposing to limit use to air-ground service,
another option is to administer the proposed 14.0-14.5 GHz air-ground use under Part 22. We seek
comment on whether the 14.0-14.5 GHz band should be governed by Part 27 or Part 22, or by some other
existing part of our rules. We request that commenters specify how the rule part they advocate should be
modified to accommodate the proposed air-ground service, and explain how such rule part would best
serve licensees and the public. Alternatively, we seek comment on whether services in this band should
be governed by their own newly created rule part, and if so, how such a new part would differ from
existing rule parts, and why the proposed service cannot be accommodated under an existing regulatory
framework.78 We seek comment on the appropriate approach and ask that commenters discuss the costs
and benefits of their proposed licensing approach.79
3.

Regulatory Status

54.
Regardless of which rule part is used to license applicants in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, we
propose that we should classify the services we adopt as CMRS if we adopt the proposal to license the
band for air-ground mobile broadband.80 We seek comment on this proposal. We note that existing 800
MHz air-ground service is classified as CMRS.81 However, we seek comment as to whether we should
permit an air-ground mobile broadband licensee to specify its regulatory status similar to provisions
found in section 27.10 of the Commission’s rules.82 The Commission’s current mobile service license
application requires an applicant for mobile services to identify the regulatory status of the services(s) it
intends to provide (CMRS, Private Mobile Radio Service, or both)83 because service offerings may bear
on eligibility and other statutory and regulatory requirements.84 In applying that model, Part 27 permits
an applicant to choose between providing common carrier and non-common carrier services, or a
combination thereof, and prospective air-ground mobile broadband licensees may benefit from a similar

76 We note that the Commission’s more recent wireless services are governed under Part 27’s broader regulatory
framework.
77 See 47 C.F.R. Part 22, Subpart G.
78 The designation of our proposed rules to govern air-ground mobile broadband as Part 22 rules in Appendix B is
for administrative convenience only, and does not reflect a proposal or preference for regulating air-ground mobile
broadband under Part 22.
79 Other parts of the Commission’s rules will apply to a licensee regardless of the rule part used as the regulatory
framework for the proposed services.
80 See 47 U.S.C. § 332(c)(1); 47 C.F.R. §§ 20.9, 20.15(a).
81 47 C.F.R. § 20.9(a)(8).
82 See 47 C.F.R. § 27.10.
83 See FCC Form 601.
84 See infra Section IV.F.4.
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approach. We seek comment on the merits of this licensing approach and ask that commenters discuss
the costs and benefits of this and other licensing approaches.
55.
If the Commission permits a licensee to choose its regulatory status, we propose that,
similar to the provisions of section 27.10, applicants and licensees in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band must
identify their regulatory status on the FCC Form 601. We also propose that if a licensee changes the
service it offers such that it would be inconsistent with its regulatory status, the licensee must notify the
Commission.85 Further, we propose that licensees must file the notice within 30 days of a change made
without the need for prior Commission approval, except that a different time period may apply where the
change results in the discontinuance, reduction, or impairment of the existing service.86 We seek
comment on alternative proposals regarding changes to a licensee’s regulatory status and the costs and
benefits of such proposals.

F.

Licensing and Operating Rules

1.

Assignment of Licenses

56.
In this Notice, we propose to adopt a geographic area licensing scheme for the 14.0-14.5
GHz band that permits the filing and acceptance of mutually exclusive applications.87 Section 309(j) of
the Act requires that the Commission assign initial licenses through the use of competitive bidding when
mutually exclusive applications for such licenses are accepted for filing, except in the case of certain
specific statutory exemptions not applicable here.88 Consistent with the Commission’s policy that
competitive bidding places licenses in the hands of those that value the spectrum most highly, we believe
that it would be in the public interest to adopt a licensing scheme which allows the filing of mutually
exclusive applications that, if accepted, would be resolved through competitive bidding. Accordingly, in
Section IV.G, we seek comment on proposals regarding competitive bidding rules that would apply to
resolve any mutually exclusive applications accepted for the 14.0-14.5 GHz block licenses.
2.

Spectrum Blocks

57.
Our goal is to assign the spectrum in a way that offers the best opportunity to use the
spectrum efficiently and effectively, and to promote the provision of wireless broadband services that best
meet the needs of passengers aboard aircraft. We also seek to craft an approach that will permit licensees
to deploy a variety of current and future technologies within the allocated spectrum and permissible uses.
58.
With these goals in mind, we seek comment on how best to apportion the spectrum, if at
all, and seek comment on band plans for the 14.0-14.5 GHz band at issue. For example, Qualcomm
proposes that the Commission auction two 250 megahertz licenses at 14.00-14.25 GHz and 14.25-14.50
GHz to enable two separate air-ground mobile broadband systems.89 Qualcomm states that under this
proposal, the aggregate throughput for each system would be approximately 150 gigabits per second
(“Gbps”), which would enable licensees to offer advanced data services.90 We seek detailed comment on
Qualcomm’s proposal to create two 250 megahertz licenses, including the costs and benefits of that
proposal. While it appears that a throughput of 150 Gbps for a single 250 megahertz system would

85 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. § 27.10(d).
86 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. § 27.66.
87 See infra Section IV.F.3 (service areas).
88 See 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(1), (2).
89 See Qualcomm Petition at 1.
90 See id. at 14.
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enable multiple users on multiple aircraft to receive typical broadband services comparable to terrestrial
usage,91 we seek specific comment on whether a 250 megahertz block is an appropriate amount of
spectrum for a licensee to provide the anticipated air-ground mobile broadband service, particularly
considering system constraints that may be needed to protect other services in the band.
59.
Another approach to apportioning the spectrum is for the Commission to license the
entire 500 megahertz of spectrum, from 14.0-14.5 GHz, to a single licensee. We seek comment on
licensing the entire 500 megahertz as a single block, and specifically regarding whether and in what ways
a 500-megahertz system is materially preferable to a 250-megahertz system. Commenters should discuss
whether licensing two 250 megahertz blocks or a single 500 megahertz block would result in increased
competition, innovation, and investment in the provision of air-ground mobile broadband.92
60.
We also seek comment on other ways to license the 14.0-14.5 GHz spectrum band,
including the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and as compared to the previously
discussed proposals. Specifically, we seek comment regarding whether the envisioned air-ground mobile
broadband service offerings would be possible should the Commission divide the spectrum into more
than two blocks. Commenters should discuss the costs and benefits of any alternative proposal, including
its effects on competition, innovation, and investment in the provision of air-ground broadband services.
61.
We note that any approach to apportioning the band should take into account the need for
air-ground mobile broadband licensees to accommodate other users of the band. We therefore request
comment on how existing uses of the band, as well as any potential coordination or other interference
mitigation measures the Commission may adopt to accommodate those uses, affect how we should
apportion the 14.0-14.5 GHz band. 93 For example, if the licensing of the service to one or two
nationwide licensees facilitates coordination and makes it more effective,94 would such advantages
outweigh any benefits of licensing this spectrum in smaller blocks of spectrum? Does the type and
density of the incumbent users make any particular portion of the band more or less suitable for air-
ground mobile broadband use? Should we license contiguous blocks of spectrum or are there
environmental or incumbency issues that would make it useful to assign licensees spectrum from
throughout the band? If so, what would be the appropriate size of such noncontiguous blocks? More
generally, what band plan options would strike the best balance that enables incoming air-ground mobile
broadband licensees to co-exist with incumbent existing operations in the band while optimizing the
efficiency of air-ground mobile broadband use of spectrum?
3.
Service Areas
62.
Geographic Area Licensing. We propose to adopt a geographic area licensing scheme (as
opposed to a site-by-site model) for the 14.0-14.5 GHz band because a geographic approach is well-suited
for the proposed air-ground mobile broadband services. We would expect that geographic licensing in
this instance would provide licensees with flexibility to respond to market conditions and reduce
regulatory burdens and transaction costs associated with site-by-site approvals. This is especially

91 Globally, the average mobile network connection speed for tablets in 2012 was 3,683 kbps, up from 2,030 kbps in
2011 and expected to increase to 11.660 mbps by 2017. Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile
Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012-2017, dated February 6, 2013, available at
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/collateral/ns341/ns525/ns537/ns705/ns827/white_paper_c11-520862.pdf.
(visited Mar. 15, 2013).
92 See also spectrum aggregation discussion in Section IV.F.4 infra.
93 See supra Section IV.D.
94 Larger spectrum blocks may permit air-ground mobile broadband licensees to offset their operations away from
TDRSS and RAS frequencies, thereby reducing the risk of harmful interference.
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appropriate where spectrum is likely to be used for a service that requires ubiquity and flexibility in siting
over wide areas, such as with this air-ground mobile broadband proposal. Additionally, geographic area
licensing is consistent with the Commission’s licensing approach for the Advanced Wireless Services
(AWS), Broadband PCS, and 700 MHz bands.95 We seek comment on this proposal, including the costs
and benefits of adopting a geographic licensing scheme.
63.
In the event that commenters do not support geographic area licensing for the 14.0-14.5
GHz band proposal, commenters should explain their positions and identify any alternative licensing
proposals that they support, including the costs and benefits associated with such alternative proposals.
64.
Service Area Size. Assuming that we utilize a geographic area approach for licensing
this band, we must determine the appropriate size of the service area on which the license or licenses
should be based. Traditionally, the Commission has endeavored to adopt optimal spectrum block and
geographic area sizes, while simultaneously allowing parties to aggregate, disaggregate, or partition their
licenses through secondary market mechanisms as necessary. Ideally, the size of the service area would
complement the business plans of the initial licensees. Here, taking into consideration the proposed air-
ground mobile broadband use for this band, we propose to license this spectrum on a nationwide basis.
We note that the 800 MHz commercial aviation air-ground service is licensed on a nationwide basis.96
We seek comment on this proposal.
65.
We seek comment on whether specifying a smaller service area size for initial licensing,
such as Regional Economic Area Groupings (REAGs), is more appropriate for this band. Are there
service areas smaller than REAGs that would accommodate the proposed air-ground mobile broadband?
We ask commenters to compare the advantages and disadvantages of nationwide licensing to those of
smaller services areas, such as REAGs, including financial considerations. We ask commenters to
discuss and quantify the economic, technical, and other public interest considerations of any particular
geographic scheme for this band. We are particularly interested in how to accommodate systems licensed
to different users at the border of such geographic areas.
4.

Ownership Restrictions

66.
Foreign Ownership Reporting. We propose to apply provisions similar to ownership
reporting requirements found in Parts 22, 24, and 27 to applicants for licenses in the proposed 14.0-14.5
GHz band.97 Sections 22.7, 24.12, and 27.1298 each implement section 310 of the Act, including foreign
ownership and citizenship requirements that restrict the issuance of licenses to certain applicants.99 An
applicant requesting authorization to provide services in this band other than broadcast, common carrier,
aeronautical en route, and aeronautical fixed services would be subject to the restrictions in section
310(a), but not to the additional restrictions in section 310(b). An applicant requesting authorization for
broadcast, common carrier, aeronautical en route, or aeronautical fixed services would be subject to both
sections 310(a) and 310(b). We do not believe that applicants for the proposed 14.0-14.5 GHz band
should be subject to varied reporting obligations. Thus, we propose that all applicants must provide the

95 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. §§ 24.202, 27.6(b), (h).
96 See 47 C.F.R. § 22.857.
97 See 47 C.F.R. § 27.12.
98 47 C.F.R. §§ 22.7, 24.12, 27.12.
99 See 47 U.S.C. § 310.
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same foreign ownership information, which covers both sections 310(a) and 310(b).100 We request
comment on this proposal, including any costs and benefits.
67.
Eligibility and Spectrum Aggregation Limits. We propose to adopt an open eligibility
standard101 for the proposed 14.0-14.5 GHz band. It does not appear that open eligibility in this band will
result in significant likelihood of substantial harm to competition, and therefore it does not appear that an
eligibility restriction in this band is warranted. We believe that such an open eligibility approach should
encourage efforts to provide new technologies, products, and services, while helping to ensure efficient
use of this spectrum.102 An open eligibility standard is consistent with the Commission’s past practice for
mobile wireless spectrum allocations.103 We note that an open eligibility approach does not affect
citizenship, character, or other generally applicable requirements that may apply. We seek comment on
this proposal. Commenters should discuss the costs and benefits of the open eligibility proposal on
competition, innovation, and investment.
68.
With regard to spectrum aggregation, we note that the Commission reviews the impact of
an increase in spectrum holdings on competition, innovation, and the efficient use of spectrum, generally
on a case-by-case basis.104 In our recently initiated proceeding to review policies toward mobile spectrum
holdings, the Commission stated that it would continue to apply its case-by-case approach to evaluate
mobile spectrum holdings in initial spectrum licensing.105 Regarding the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, we seek
comment generally on whether and how to address any spectrum aggregation concerns and effects on
competition in the provision of mobile broadband services to passengers on aircraft. While we do not
propose adopting any specific aggregation limits applicable to the initial licensing of this band, we seek
comment on whether any such limits are necessary or appropriate. In particular, parties advocating such
limits should discuss whether we should limit the amount of spectrum in this band that one entity may
acquire at auction and through secondary market transactions. For example, to the extent we establish
multiple spectrum blocks for this band, we seek comment on whether one entity should be permitted to
acquire more than one block.
69.
We note that, if implemented, the proposed air-ground mobile broadband service in the
14.0-14.5 GHz band would compete domestically with ESAA service providers (satellite-based) in the

100 That said, by establishing parity in reporting obligations, however, we do not propose a single, substantive
standard for compliance. For example, we would not expect to deny a license to an applicant requesting to provide
exclusively services that are not subject to section 310(b), solely because its foreign ownership would disqualify it
from receiving a license if the applicant had applied for authority to provide services subject to section 310(b).
101 Under an “open” or unrestricted eligibility approach for licensing spectrum, the Commission does not exclude
any potential applicants because of the amount of spectrum they already control, as such exclusions in these
instances are deemed to be unnecessary for ensuring competition.
102 See 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(3).
103 See, e.g., Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792 MHz Bands, Second Report and Order, 22 FCC
Rcd 15289, 15381-84, ¶¶ 253, 256, note 573 (2007).
104 See, e.g., Applications of Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless and SpectrumCo LLC and Cox TMI, LLC
For Consent to Assign AWS-1 Licenses,
WT Docket No. 12-4, Memorandum Opinion and Order and Declaratory
Ruling, 27 FCC Rcd 10698, 10716, ¶ 48 (2012); Applications of AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC, New Cingular
Wireless PCS, LLC, Comcast Corporation, Horizon Wi-Com, LLC, NextWave Wireless, Inc., and San Diego Gas &
Electric Company For Consent to Assign and Transfer Licenses,
WT Docket No. 12-240, Memorandum Opinion
and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 16459, 16467, ¶ 20 (2012).
105 See Policies Regarding Mobile Spectrum Holdings, WT Docket No. 12-269, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27
FCC Rcd 11710, 11718, ¶ 16, note 59 (2012).
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11.7-12.2 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz bands106 and air-ground service providers (terrestrial-based) in the 800
MHz band. Most of the ESAA licensees have blanket authority to use one gigahertz of spectrum, 500
megahertz for transmitting, and 500 megahertz for receiving.107 We seek comment on whether there are
any competitive concerns with our licensing proposals for the 14.0-14.5 GHz band given the current
marketplace for air-ground broadband services. In light of the increase in the number of entities
authorized to provide broadband services to aircraft, we propose not to restrict a single entity from
purchasing both licenses to construct a single 500 megahertz system.108 Commenters should provide data
and analysis supporting their positions. Those commenters that support aggregation limits should also
address with specificity what the limitations should be, what competitive problems the proposed limits are
designed to solve, and how their proposals will address these problems without imposing undue costs or
inefficiencies. Commenters should discuss and quantify any costs and benefits associated with alternative
proposals on spectrum aggregation policies for the 14.0-14.5 GHz band on competition, innovation, and
investment.
70.
We seek comment on the potential impact of all of our proposals on competition;
specifically, how any proposal a commenter supports may enhance competition and result in the rapid
deployment of competitive mobile broadband services to consumers. Commenters should also discuss
the costs and benefits of these proposals and any alternative proposals. Further, to the extent possible,
commenters should provide specific data and information, such as actual or estimated dollar figures for
each specific cost or benefit addressed, along with a description of how the data or information was
calculated or obtained, and any supporting documentation or other evidentiary support.
5.

License Term, Performance Requirements, Renewal Criteria, and
Permanent Discontinuance of Operations

71.
License Term. We propose to establish a ten-year term for licenses in the proposed 14.0-
14.5 GHz band. The Act does not specify a license term limit for the proposed services.109 The

106 See Panasonic Avionics Corporation, Order and Authorization, 26 FCC Rcd 12557 (Int’l Bur. and OET 2011)
(blanket license for a network of up to 50 earth stations aboard foreign-flagged commercial aircraft operated by
Lufthansa transmitting in the 14.0 GHz-14.5 GHz band and receiving in the 11.7-12.2 GHz band); Row 44, Inc.,
Order and Authorization, 24 FCC Rcd 10223 (Int’l Bur. and OET 2009) (blanket license for a network with up to
1,000 technically identical earth stations aboard aircraft transmitting in 14.05-14.47 GHz and receiving in 11.7-12.2
GHz); ViaSat, Inc., Order and Authorization, 22 FCC Rcd 19964 (Int’l Bur. and OET 2007) (blanket license for a
network with up to 1,000 technically identical earth stations aboard aircraft transmitting in 14.0-14.5 GHz and
receiving in 11.7-12.2 GHz); ARINC Incorporated, Order and Authorization, 20 FCC Rcd 7553 (Int’l Bur. and OET
2005) (blanket license for up to 1,000 technically identical earth stations aboard aircraft transmitting in 14.0-14.5
GHz and receiving in 11.7-12.2 GHz); and Boeing Company, Order and Authorization, 16 FCC Rcd 5864 (Int’l Bur.
and OET 2001) (blanket license for up to 800 technically identical receive only earth stations aboard aircraft); Order
and Authorization, 16 FCC Rcd 22645 (Int’l Bur. and OET 2001) (modifying prior receive only authorization to
provide blanket license for up to 800 technically identical earth stations aboard aircraft transmitting in 14.0-14.5
GHz and receiving in 11.7-12.2 GHz). Most recently, Gogo received blanket license for up to 1,000 technically
identical earth stations aboard aircraft transmitting in the 14.0-14.5 GHz and receiving in 11.7-12.2 GHz. Gogo
LLC, Application for Blanket Authority for Operation of 1,000 Technically Identical Ku-Band Transmit/Receive
Earth Stations in the Aeronautical Mobile Satellite Service
, IBFS File Nos. SES-LIC-20120619-00574, SES-AMD-
20120731-00709, SES-AFS-20121008-00902, granted May 1, 2013. Gogo holds an authorization for the terrestrial-
based Air-Ground network, Call Sign WQFX728 (granted on October 31, 2006).
107 See supra note 106.
108 See Qualcomm Petition at 14.
109 The only statutory limit on license terms is eight years for licenses in the broadcast services. See 47 U.S.C. §
307(c)(1); see also 47 C.F.R. § 73.1020(a).
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Commission has adopted ten-year license terms for most wireless radio services licenses, including the
800 MHz commercial air-ground service.110 Because we continue to believe that a ten-year term is
appropriate,111 and in the interest of maintaining consistency among wireless services, we propose a ten-
year term here. We seek comment on this proposal, including any costs and benefits of the proposal.
Further, we invite commenters to submit alternative proposals for appropriate license terms, which should
similarly include a discussion regarding the costs and benefits.
72.
We note that under our license term proposal, if a license is partitioned or disaggregated
as proposed infra, any partitionee or disaggregatee would be authorized to hold its license for the
remainder of the original license term.112 We emphasize that nothing in our proposal is intended to enable
any partitionee or disaggregatee to obtain rights in excess of those previously possessed by the underlying
licensee. We seek comment on these proposals, including the costs and benefits thereof.
73.
Performance Requirements. The Commission establishes performance requirements to
facilitate the efficient deployment of wireless services, and promote the efficient and effective use of the
spectrum.113 Historically, the Commission has applied various performance and construction
requirements to different spectrum bands. For example, within four years of license grant, an AWS-4
licensee must provide reliable signal coverage and offer service to at least forty percent of its total
population; and within seven years, the licensee must provide coverage and offer services to at least
seventy percent of the population in each license area.114 Similarly, for licensees in the 2.3 GHz Wireless
Communications Services (WCS) band, the Commission adopted population-based and fixed links
construction requirements as well as reporting obligations.115 For the 700 MHz band, the Commission
required licensees to provide service coverage to a specific percentage of the population of the applicable
market or to cover a certain percentage of the geographic market area by their interim and final
construction deadlines.116
74.
In other instances, where population- or geography-based requirements are not optimal or
appropriate, the Commission has adopted substantial service requirements for licensees. For example, in
the 800 MHz commercial aviation air-ground service, the Commission found that a five-year substantial
service construction requirement was appropriate for new licensees and was consistent with our statutory
mandate “to prevent stockpiling or warehousing by licensees, and to promote investment in and rapid
deployment of new technologies and services.”117 In that case, the Commission defined substantial
service as “service that is sound, favorable, and substantially above a level of mediocre service that would
barely warrant renewal.”118 A licensee would be viewed as meeting the substantial service requirement if
it met one of two safe harbors: (1) if the licensee constructs and operates 20 base stations, with at least

110 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. §§ 24.15, 27.13(a).
111 See, e.g., Service Rules for Advanced Wireless Services in the 2155-2175 MHz, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,
27 FCC Rcd 17035, 17086, ¶ 104 (2007) (noting that a ten-year license term will help to provide a stable regulatory
environment).
112 See infra Section IV.F.6 (partitioning and disaggregation).
113 See 47 U.S.C. § 309(j).
114 See 47 C.F.R. § 27.14.
115 See 47 C.F.R. § 27.14(p).
116 See 47 C.F.R. § 27.14(g)-(i).
117 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(4)(B).
118 Id.
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one base station in each of the FAA regions,119 at the five-year benchmark; or (2) if the licensee
constructs and operates base stations capable of serving the airspace of at least 25 of the 50 busiest
airports, as measured by annual passenger boardings, at the five-year benchmark.120
75.
In light of the air-ground mobile broadband being proposed for this band, we believe that
a substantial service requirement similar to that adopted for the licensees in the 800 MHz commercial air-
ground service is appropriate here in light of the difficulties in applying specific population- or
geography-based requirements.
76.
We tentatively conclude that a new licensee or licensees in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band
should be required to meet substantial service at the end of its proposed ten-year license term. Consistent
with past practice, we propose to define substantial service as service that is sound, favorable, and
substantially above a level of mediocre service that would barely warrant renewal. We believe that a ten-
year performance period is appropriate given the extensive nationwide configuration likely required for a
successful, robust air-ground system. Given the need for ubiquitous service over large areas of the
country, we expect that any nationwide air-ground mobile broadband system would necessarily require
the deployment of a relatively large number of base stations. We assume, however, that a successful
service would require the operation of a large percentage of the anticipated total number of a system’s
base stations. We believe that a time period of ten years is reasonable for the deployment and operation
of a nationwide air-ground mobile broadband system that provides the anticipated seamless broadband
services to aircraft.121 We seek comment on our proposal to impose a ten-year performance deadline. We
note that in proposing a ten-year benchmark, we do not suggest that licensees may delay construction and
service until the end of the term. To the contrary, our goal is the rapid deployment and delivery of
broadband mobile service to aircraft, and we expect licensees to make concerted efforts to begin service
as early as possible. To that end, we believe that imposing interim performance or reporting requirements
may help to ensure that a licensee is making timely and quantifiable progress on its obligations to
construct and provide service. We therefore request comment on whether we should adopt an interim
requirement, and what such requirement should include. We could, for example, require licensees to
submit a report demonstrating that meaningful efforts—such as the filing of requisite FAA certification
applications, pursuing network engineering planning, or taking affirmative steps to procure equipment
and sites— have been made in constructing their air-ground mobile broadband systems. We seek
comment on this or other interim requirements designed to ensure that licensees are taking early and
proactive steps to deploy their networks. We also request comment on what, if any, penalties should be
applied for failure to take meaningful steps towards construction. Commenters should discuss the
advantages and costs associated with an interim requirement.
77.
We request comment on the appropriate safe harbor or safe harbors that will satisfy the
proposed substantial service obligation. We propose the following safe harbor, which is crafted to reflect
major domestic air travel routes:
 The construction and operation of base stations that provide robust, uninterrupted
service to all routes within the contiguous United States between 50 or more airports

119 See Federal Aviation Administration, Regions and Aeronautical Center Operations,
www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/arc/ (visited April 3, 2013).
120 See Federal Aviation Administration, Passenger Boarding (Enplanement) and All-Cargo Data for U.S. Airports,
www.faa.gov/airports/planning_capacity/passenger_allcargo_stats/passenger/ (visited April 3, 2013).
121 This construction period also accommodates applicable FAA certification and approval processes.
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classified as large or medium hubs (as measured by the most recent FAA data for
annual passenger enplanements) within ten years of license grant.122
78.
We note that service to large and medium hubs accounts for approximately 88 percent of
primary airport traffic, with the top 50 airports representing approximately 83 percent of such air
traffic.123 We propose this safe harbor in an effort to foster the efficient deployment of a robust
nationwide air-ground mobile broadband system that will satisfy demand for continuous broadband
service aboard aircraft. A successful service will necessarily require a number of operational base
stations sufficient to provide uninterrupted broadband service to both cross country and shorter, regional
routes. We believe that the proposed safe harbor will help to ensure the requisite deployment of
necessary facilities.
79.
We seek comment on the feasibility of the proposed safe harbor and whether other
alternatives represent more appropriate safe harbors. We encourage specific comment regarding whether
our proposed safe harbor or other safe harbors adequately reflect meaningful buildout in the context of the
proposed uses of this band. Commenters should discuss and quantify how any supported safe harbors
will affect investment and innovation as well as discuss and quantify other costs and benefits associated
with the proposal. We note that safe harbors are intended to provide licensees with a measure of certainty
in determining whether they are providing substantial service, but are not intended to be the only means
of demonstrating substantial service. Licensees may choose to show substantial service by other means.
Importantly, however, we tentatively conclude that a licensee, whether it chooses to meet an established
safe harbor or make an alternative showing, must demonstrate that it has constructed and is actually
providing service to aircraft. The actual provision of service to aircraft could, for example, be evidenced
by a contract with at least one major airline covering the requisite routes. We seek comment on these
proposals. Finally, in the event we permit partitioning and disaggregation in this band, we propose
requiring a partitionee or disaggregatee to be bound by any construction requirements that we may adopt
in this proceeding. We seek comment on how construction requirements, including the proposed safe
harbor, should be applied to any partitionees and disaggregatees.124
80.
We also seek comment on the appropriate procedures to apply if a licensee does not
comply with the performance requirements. We tentatively conclude that we should apply the procedures
set forth in section 1.946(c) of the Commission’s rules to licensees that fail to meet their performance
requirements.125 This section states that the license will automatically terminate, without specific
Commission action, on the date the construction or coverage period expires.126 We seek comment on our
proposal that we apply this rule to licensees in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band. In addition, if a geographic area
licensee loses its license for failure to comply with coverage requirements, we seek comment on whether
the licensee should be precluded from regaining the license.

122 “Large” hubs are defined as airports that have passenger boardings equal to or greater than one percent of total
annual passenger enplanements, while “medium” hubs have at least 0.25 percent but less than one percent of the
total annual passenger boardings. See 49 U.S.C. § 47102.
123 Percentages are based on calendar year 2011 enplanements. See Federal Aviation Administration, CY 2011
Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data: Enplanements at Primary Airports (by Rank),
www.faa.gov/airports/planning_capacity/passenger_allcargo_stats/passenger/media/cy11_primary_enplanements.pd
f, (visited April 3, 2013).
124 See Section IV.F.6 infra.
125 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.946(c).
126 See id.
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81.
Finally, we propose that licensees file a notification within 15 days of the ten-year
benchmark demonstrating that they have met the applicable performance requirement. Further, we
propose that each construction notification include electronic coverage maps and supporting
documentation, which must be truthful and accurate and must not omit material information that is
necessary for the Commission to determine compliance with its construction requirement.
82.
Renewal Criteria. We propose to adopt renewal requirements for licensees in the 14.0-
14.5 GHz band based on the Commission’s model for the 700 MHz commercial licensees.127 Under this
three-part approach: (1) renewal applicants must file a detailed renewal showing, demonstrating that they
are providing service to the public (or, are using the spectrum for private, internal communication to the
extent permitted by the Commission), and substantially complying with the Commission’s rules
(including any applicable performance requirements) and policies of the Act; (2) competing renewal
applications are prohibited; and (3) if a license is not renewed, the associated spectrum is returned to the
Commission for reassignment.128
83.
In the 700 MHz First Report and Order, the Commission determined that 700 MHz
licensees must file a renewal application pursuant to section 1.949, demonstrating that they have provided
substantial service during their past license term.129 The Commission explained that the substantial
service showing made in support of a renewal application is distinct from any substantial service
performance showing under the Commission’s service rules.130 The Commission emphasized that “a
licensee that meets the applicable performance requirements might nevertheless fail to meet the
substantial service standard at renewal.”131
84.
The Commission also explained that “[s]ubstantial service in the renewal context . . .
encompasses Commission consideration of a variety of factors including [1] the level and quality of
service, [2] whether service was ever interrupted or discontinued, [3] whether service has been provided
to rural areas, and [4] any other factors associated with a licensee’s level of service to the public.”132 We
tentatively conclude that these same factors should be considered by the Commission when evaluating
renewal showings for the proposed 14.0-14.5 GHz band. We request comment regarding our proposed
renewal requirements.
85.
Permanent Discontinuance of Operations. We seek comment on the Commission’s rules
concerning the permanent discontinuance of operations, which are intended to afford licensees

127 We note that our proposal here is consistent with the Commission’s goal in the pending rulemaking to harmonize
the Commission’s varying requirements for the renewal of Wireless Radio Services licenses. See In the Matter of
Amendment of Parts 1, 22, 24, 27, 74, 80, 90, 95, and 101 to Establish Uniform Licensee Renewal, Discontinuance
of Operation, and Geographic Partitioning and Spectrum Disaggregation Rules and Policies for Certain Wireless
Radio Services,
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order, 25 FCC Rcd 6996 (2010). In that proceeding, the
Commission proposes to revise renewal requirements for Wireless Radio Services based on the model for the 700
MHz Commercial Services band licensees. Id., 25 FCC Rcd at 7002.
128 See Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792 MHz Bands, Report and Order and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, 22 FCC Rcd 8064, 8093, ¶¶ 75-77 (2007) (700 MHz First Report and Order) (subsequent
history omitted).
129 See 700 MHz First Report and Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 8093 ¶ 75.
130 See id.
131 Id. In this regard, section 27.14(e) of the Commission’s rules, adopted in the 700 MHz proceeding, provides that
a renewal applicant “must make a showing of substantial service, independent of its performance requirements, as a
condition for renewal at the end of each license term.” 47 C.F.R. § 27.14(e).
132 700 MHz First Report and Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 8093, ¶ 75.
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operational flexibility to use their spectrum efficiently while ensuring that spectrum does not lay idle for
extended periods. Pursuant to section 1.955(a)(3) of the Commission’s rules, an authorization will
automatically terminate, without Commission action, if service is “permanently discontinued.”133 For the
14.0-14.5 GHz spectrum discussed herein, we propose to define “permanently discontinued” as a period
of 180 consecutive days during which a licensee is not providing service to aircraft or subscribers. The
180-day period would apply regardless of the rule part used to license applicants. Licensees would not be
subject to this requirement until the date of their performance deadline(s).
86.
In addition, consistent with section 1.955(a)(3) of the Commission’s rules, we propose
that, if a licensee in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band permanently discontinues service, the licensee must notify
the Commission of the discontinuance within 10 days by filing FCC Form 601 or 605 and requesting
license cancellation. An authorization will automatically terminate without specific Commission action if
service is permanently discontinued even if a licensee fails to file the required form. We seek comment
on these proposals, including the associated costs and benefits.
6.

Secondary Markets

87.
Partitioning and Disaggregation. Geographic partitioning refers to the assignment of
geographic portions of the license to another licensee along geopolitical or other boundaries. Spectrum
disaggregation refers to the assignment of discrete amounts of spectrum under the license to another
entity. These practices are intended to facilitate efficient use of the spectrum and economic opportunity
for a wide variety of applicants, including small business, rural telephone, minority-owned, and women-
owned applicants.134
88.
While we propose to license this spectrum on a nationwide basis, we recognize that it is
possible that a licensee may opt to deploy an air-ground mobile broadband system in a service area
smaller than a nationwide market. Further, we recognize that a licensee may find that it is not necessary
to utilize all of its licensed bandwidth in order to deploy a broadband air-ground system, and may wish to
disaggregate its excess capacity. Given the positive effects on competition of encouraging opportunities
for secondary market transactions,135 coupled with natural market constraints on the apportioning of
spectrum rights in a manner that would undermine the economic viability of the service, we do not
believe that there is any need at this time to adopt rules restricting an air-ground mobile broadband
licensee’s marketplace decisions regarding partitioning or disaggregation. Accordingly, we propose to
permit partitioning and disaggregation by an air-ground mobile broadband licensee in the 14.0-14.5 GHz
band.136 We invite comment on adopting air-ground mobile broadband partitioning or disaggregation
provisions similar to section 27.15 of the Commission’s rules, which provides that a licensee may apply
to partition their licensed geographic service areas or disaggregate their licensed spectrum at any time
following the grant of their licenses.137 We also seek comment on the costs and benefits of allowing
partitioning and disaggregation for air-ground mobile broadband, and whether it promotes the public
interest.

133 47 C.F.R. § 1.955(a)(3).
134 See 47 U.S.C. § 1.946(c).
135 See Promoting Efficient Use of Spectrum Through Elimination of Barriers to the Development of Secondary
Markets
, WT Docket No. 00-230, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 18 FCC Rcd
20604, 20624-26, ¶¶ 42-45 (2003) (Secondary Markets Report and Order and Further Notice) (discussion of benefits
of secondary markets); Erratum, 18 FCC Rcd 24817 (2003).
136 We note that partitionees and disaggregatees would be limited to air-ground mobile broadband operations should
we adopt the proposal to limit this service to air-ground use.
137 See 47 C.F.R. § 27.15.
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89.
We propose to require that each party to a partitioning, disaggregation, or combination
thereof in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band service individually meet any applicable service performance
requirements (both construction and actual provision of service) that the Commission imposes upon its
partitioned and/or disaggregated license. 138 This approach is intended to ensure that spectrum is used
intensively in the public interest, while affording licensees significant flexibility to structure their
coverage areas and spectrum use according to their business plans. We seek comment on our proposal to
adopt an independent construction requirement for each party to a geographic partitioning or spectrum
disaggregation. Commenters should discuss and quantify the costs and benefits of these proposals with
respect to competition, innovation, and investment. Similarly, we seek comment on whether parties to a
partitioning or disaggregation should be required to individually comply with any coordination
requirement that the Commission may adopt.
90.
Spectrum Leasing. In 2003, in order to promote more efficient use of terrestrial wireless
spectrum through secondary market transactions while also eliminating regulatory uncertainty, the
Commission adopted a comprehensive set of policies and rules to govern spectrum leasing arrangements
between terrestrial licensees and spectrum lessees.139 These policies and rules enable terrestrially based
Wireless Radio Service licensees holding “exclusive use” spectrum rights to lease some or all of the
spectrum usage rights associated with their licenses to third party spectrum lessees, which then are
permitted to provide wireless services consistent with the underlying license authorization.140
91.
We propose that the general spectrum leasing policies and rules be applied to the 14.0-
14.5 GHz band in the same manner that those policies apply generally to other services.141 We seek
comment on this proposal. Commenters should discuss the effects on competition, innovation and
investment, and of extending our secondary spectrum leasing policies and rules to the 14.0-14.5 GHz
band. Are there considerations specific to the proposed air-ground mobile broadband service that requires
the Commission to depart from the Commission’s general spectrum leasing policies? For example, to the
extent that we adopt coordination requirements, we invite comment on how to apply such requirements to
different categories of spectrum lessees.
7.

Other Operating Requirements

92.
Regardless of which part the Commission concludes is most appropriate for these
licenses, licensees in this band may be required to comply with rules contained in other parts of the
Commission’s rules by virtue of the particular services they provide. For example:

Applicants and licensees would be subject to the application filing procedures for the
Universal Licensing System, set forth in Part 1 of our rules.142

Licensees would be required to comply with the practices and procedures listed in Part 1
of our rules for license applications, adjudicatory proceedings, etc.

138 See supra Section IV.F.5 (performance requirements).
139 See Secondary Markets Report and Order and Further Notice, 18 FCC Rcd 20604, Erratum, 18 FCC Rcd 24817
(2003).
140 See id. In 2004, the Commission expanded the leasing framework by establishing immediate approval
procedures for certain categories of spectrum leasing arrangements and extending the spectrum leasing policies to
additional Wireless Radio Services. See Promoting Efficient Use of Spectrum Through Elimination of Barriers to
the Development of Secondary Markets
, Second Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Second Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 19 FCC Rcd 17503 (2004).
141 See id. See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. ¶ 1.9005(j).
142 See 47 C.F.R. Part 1, Subpart F.
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Licensees would be required to comply with the Commission’s environmental provisions,
including section 1.1307.143

Licensees would be required to comply with the antenna structure provisions of Part 17
of our rules.

To the extent a licensee provides a CMRS, such service would be subject to the
provisions of Part 20 of the Commission’s rules along with the provisions in the rule part
under which the license was issued.144 Part 20 applies to all CMRS providers, even
though the stations may be licensed under other parts of our rules.

The application of general provisions of Parts 22, 24, 27, or 101 such as those relating to
citizenship, equal employment opportunity, or maintenance of station records.
93.
We seek comment regarding whether we need to modify any of these rules to ensure that
the 14.0-14.5 GHz licensees are covered under the necessary provisions. We seek specific comment as to
any rules that would be affected by our proposal to apply elements of the framework of these parts,
whether separately or in conjunction with other requirements.

G.

Procedures for 14.0-14.5 GHz Band Licenses Subject to Assignment by Competitive
Bidding

94.
If we adopt our proposed geographic area licensing approach that would permit the filing
and acceptance of mutually exclusive applications, we will be required to resolve such applications
through competitive bidding consistent with the mandate of Section 309(j) of the Communications Act.145
Accordingly, we seek comment on a number of proposals relating to competitive bidding for licenses for
spectrum in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band.
1.

Application of Part 1 Competitive Bidding Rules

95.
We propose that the Commission would conduct any auction for 14.0-14.5 GHz licenses
in conformity with the general competitive bidding rules set forth in Part 1, Subpart Q, of the
Commission’s rules, and substantially consistent with the competitive bidding procedures that have been
employed in previous auctions.146 Specifically, we propose to employ the Part 1 rules governing
competitive bidding design, designated entity preferences, unjust enrichment, application and payment
procedures, reporting requirements, and the prohibition on certain communications between auction
applicants.147 Under this proposal, such rules would be subject to any modifications that the Commission

143 47 C.F.R. § 1.1307.
144 See 47 C.F.R. Part 20; see also 47 C.F.R. § 27.3(g).
145 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(1).
146 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.2101-1.2114.
147 See, e.g., Amendment of Part 1 of the Commission’s Rules—Competitive Bidding Procedures, WT Docket No.
97-82, Order, Memorandum Opinion and Order and Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 12 FCC Rcd 5686 (1997);
Third Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 13 FCC Rcd 374 (1997) (Part 1 Third
Report and Order
); Order on Reconsideration of the Third Report and Order, Fifth Report and Order, and Fourth
Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 15 FCC Rcd 15293 (2000), aff’d in part and modified in part, Second
Order on Reconsideration of the Third Report and Order, and Order on Reconsideration of the Fifth Report and
Order, 18 FCC Rcd 10180 (2003); Seventh Report and Order, 16 FCC Rcd 17546 (2001); Eighth Report and Order,
17 FCC Rcd 2962 (2002); Second Order on Reconsideration of the Part 1 Fifth Report and Order, 20 FCC Rcd 1942
(2005); Implementation of the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act and Modernization of the Commission’s
Competitive Bidding Rules and Procedures
, WT Docket 05-211, Report and Order, 21 FCC Rcd 891 (2006)
(continued….)
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may adopt for its Part 1 general competitive bidding rules in the future. In addition, consistent with our
long-standing approach, auction-specific matters such as the competitive bidding design and mechanisms,
as well as minimum opening bids and/or reserve prices, would be determined by the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau pursuant to its delegated authority.148 We seek comment on this approach,
including the costs and benefits of this approach. We also seek comment on whether any of our Part 1
rules would be inappropriate or should be modified for an auction of licenses in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band.
2.

Provisions for Designated Entities

96.
In authorizing the Commission to use competitive bidding, Congress mandated that the
Commission “ensure that small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by
members of minority groups and women are given the opportunity to participate in the provision of
spectrum-based services.”149 In addition, Section 309(j)(3)(B) of the Communications Act requires that in
establishing eligibility criteria and bidding methodologies, the Commission promote “economic
opportunity and competition . . . by avoiding excessive concentration of licenses and by disseminating
licenses among a wide variety of applicants, including small businesses, rural telephone companies, and
businesses owned by members of minority groups and women.”150 One of the principal means by which
the Commission furthers these statutory goals is the award of bidding credits to small businesses. The
Commission defines eligibility requirements for small business bidding credits on a service-specific basis,
taking into account the capital requirements and other characteristics of the particular service.151
97.
We propose to make small business bidding credits available for the 14.0-14.5 GHz air-
ground mobile broadband service. In the past, the Commission has declined to adopt provisions for
designated entities for certain nationwide services, such as the direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service and
the digital audio radio service (DARS), where applicants faced extremely high implementation costs152
and it was unclear whether small businesses could attract the capital necessary to implement and provide
(Continued from previous page)
(CSEA/Part 1 Report and Order), recons. pending; Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of
Proposed Rule Making, 21 FCC Rcd 4753 (2006) (CSEA/Part 1 Designated Entity Second Report and Order and
Second FNPRM
), recons. pending; Order on Reconsideration of the Second Report and Order, 21 FCC Rcd 6703
(2006) (modified by Erratum and Notice of Office of Management and Budget Approval of Information Collections,
21 FCC Rcd 6622 (WTB 2006)), petition for review dismissed sub nom. Council Tree Communications, Inc. v.
FCC
, 503 F.3d 284 (3d Cir. 2007); Second Order on Reconsideration of the Second Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd
5425 (2008), vacated in part, Council Tree Communications, Inc. v. FCC, 619 F.3d 235 (3d Cir. 2010); Order, 27
FCC Rcd 908 (2012).
148 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.131(c), 0.331; see also Amendment of Part 1 of Commission’s Rules – Competitive Bidding
Procedures
, WT Docket No. 97-82, Third Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making,
13 FCC Rcd 374, 448-49, 454-55 (1997) (directing the Bureau to seek comment on specific mechanisms relating to
auction conduct pursuant to the BBA) (Part 1 Third Report and Order).
149 See 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(4)(D). Such entities are collectively described as “designated entities.” See 47 C.F.R.
§ 1.2110(a).
150 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)(3)(B).
151 47 C.F.R. § 1.2110(c)(1); see also Part 1 Third Report and Order,13 FCC Rcd at 388 ¶18; Implementation of
Section 309(j) of the Communications Act – Competitive Bidding
, Second Memorandum Opinion and Order, 9 FCC
Rcd at 7269, ¶ 145 (1994).
152 See Revision of Rules and Policies for the Direct Broadcast Satellite Service, Report and Order, 11 FCC Rcd
9712 (1995) (DBS Auction Order); Establishment of Rules and Policies for the Digital Audio Radio Satellite Service
in the 2310-2360 MHz Band
, Report and Order, Memorandum Opinion and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 12 FCC Rcd 5754 (1997) (DARS Auction Order).
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a nationwide service.153 Moreover, the legislative history of the designated entity provisions of Section
309(j) demonstrates that Congress did not necessarily intend that the Commission adopt special measures
for designated entities in nationwide services.154 Our proposal to offer small business bidding credits here
is based on our belief that deployment and operational costs may be significantly lower than for other
previously-authorized nationwide services. For example, a licensee may be able to initiate the proposed
air-ground mobile broadband system along primary flight paths and then gradually phase in service at
lower cost than was required for services such as DBS and DARS. We believe that the operation of an
air-ground mobile broadband service may require relatively lower capital expenditures than those
nationwide satellite-based services, because the necessary infrastructure may be less costly.155 We also
believe that the capital requirements of providing commercial air-ground mobile broadband service in the
14.0-14.5 GHz band may generally be similar to the capital requirements of providing commercial air-
ground service in the 800 MHz band, a nationwide service for which the Commission decided to offer
bidding credits.156 Thus, we seek comment on whether small businesses may be able to attract the
necessary capital to provide air-ground mobile broadband service, particularly if they are assisted by
bidding credits.
98.
While small businesses may be able to provide air-ground mobile broadband service, we
nonetheless recognize that such operations may be very capital-intensive relative to other services
provided to smaller geographic areas. We therefore propose to use the same small business definitions
we have adopted for other capital-intensive services that serve large geographic areas. Specifically, we
propose to define a small business as an entity with average annual gross revenues for the three preceding
years not exceeding $40 million, and to define a very small business as an entity with average annual
gross revenues for the three preceding years not exceeding $15 million.157 We also propose a 15 percent
bidding credit for small businesses and a 25 percent bidding credit for very small businesses, as set forth
in our standardized schedule at 47 C.F.R. § 1.2110(f)(2). These are the same tiered small business
definitions and bidding credits that we adopted for licenses for the 800 MHz commercial Air-Ground
Radiotelephone Service,158 and for EAG-based licenses in the upper and lower 700 MHz bands.159

153 See DBS Auction Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 9799, ¶ 217; DARS Auction Order, 12 FCC Rcd at 5824-25, ¶¶ 174-76.
154 The House Report to the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 states that "[t]he characteristics of some
services are inherently national in scope, and are therefore ill-suited for small businesses." H.R. Rep. No.103-111,
at 254 (1993).
155 Air-ground mobile broadband service may also require fewer base stations than other terrestrial services that are
provided on a nationwide basis, such as broadband PCS.
156 See Amendment of Part 22 of the Commission's Rules to Benefit the Consumers of Air-Ground
Telecommunications Services, Biennial Regulatory Review-- Amendment of Parts 1, 22, and 90 of the Commission's
Rules, Amendment of Parts 1 and 22 of the Commission's Rules to Adopt Competitive Bidding Rules for Commercial
and General Aviation Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service
, WT Docket Nos. 03-103, 05-42, Order on
Reconsideration and Report and Order, 20 FCC Rcd 19663, 19679, ¶ 32 (2005) (Air-Ground Reconsideration Order
and Report and Order
).
157 We are coordinating these size standards with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
158 See Air-Ground Reconsideration Order and Report and Order, 20 FCC Rcd at 19679, ¶ 33.
159 See Reallocation and Service Rules for the 698-746 MHz Spectrum Band (Television Channels 52-59), Report
and Order, 17 FCC Rcd 2153 (2002); Service Rules for the 746-764 and 776-794 MHz Bands, and Revisions of Part
27 of the Commission’s Rules
, First Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 25495 (2000). Economic Area Groupings
(EAGs) are quite large geographic areas, as the country is divided into only six EAGs.
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99.
We request comment on these proposals. In particular, we invite commenters to discuss
the expected capital requirements and other characteristics of the commercial air-ground mobile
broadband operations that may be provided using the proposed licenses, and the relationship of such
requirements and characteristics to small business definitions and bidding credits. We invite commenters
to provide comparisons with other services for which the Commission has established bidding credits. To
the extent commenters support a different bidding credit regime than the one proposed here, or no bidding
credit regime, they should support their proposals with relevant information. Such comments should
provide information on, for example, the technology that an air-ground mobile broadband licensee is
likely to employ, the cost of deployment, and other factors that may affect capital requirements for
commercial air-ground mobile broadband operations.
100.
We also seek comment on whether our proposed designated entity provisions, if applied
to an air-ground mobile broadband service, would promote participation by businesses owned by
minorities and by women, as well as participation by rural telephone companies. To the extent that
commenters propose additional provisions to enhance participation by minority-owned or women-owned
businesses, commenters should address how we should craft such provisions to meet the relevant
standards of judicial review.160

H.

Technical Rules

1.

Air-Ground Mobile Broadband System Parameters and Assumptions

101.
We propose technical rules for air-ground mobile broadband based largely on
Qualcomm’s proposal. Nevertheless, we strive to establish technology neutral rules that allow for
competing technologies and changes in technology over time without the need to change our rules.
Through these rules, we aim to protect the primary-status FSS and promote spectrum sharing with the
other users in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band and we seek comment on how to provide flexibility for potential
future air-ground mobile broadband licensees to deploy technologies that meet the goals of air-ground
mobile broadband. We propose the following technical rules based on the technical assumptions
presented in the Qualcomm Petition and summarized infra in Table 1, and we seek comment on
alternative rules that might allow technical flexibility in air-ground mobile broadband without increased
harmful interference.161 For example, although Qualcomm has based its proposal on a TDD system
design, would it be possible to deploy a FDD system to provide air-ground mobile broadband service that
provides sufficient protection to existing licensees and services and, if so, are the proposed technical rules
sufficiently robust to allow this?
102.
We summarize in Table 1 the system parameters used by Qualcomm to propose technical
rules for air-ground mobile broadband in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band. We present these assumptions to assist
commenters in understanding the proposals for technical rules set out in this Notice, and to guide
commenters in proposing changes to the technical rules they think will better reflect the realities of the
various communications systems in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band. We request comment on whether these
assumptions are accurate, or whether we need other values as the basis for technical rules governing air-
ground mobile broadband.

160 See United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996); Adarand Constructors v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200 (1995).
161 See also Qualcomm Petition, Appendix A.
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Table 1. Air-Ground Mobile Broadband system parameters used for developing technical rules

System Parameters

Assumptions

Remarks/Comments

Spectrum bands
250 megahertz (14.0-
air-ground mobile
14.5 GHz)
broadband base station
(BS) parameter
Number of BSs
150/250
air-ground mobile
broadband BS parameter
BS Equivalent Isotropic
39.5 dBW/50 megahertz
air-ground mobile
Radiated Power in 50
broadband BS parameter
megahertz
Number of beams/BS
4
air-ground mobile
broadband BS parameter
BS antenna roll-off Front to
-37 dB
air-ground mobile
back ratio
broadband BS parameter
Aircraft EIRP per beam
3.00 dBW/2.0 megahertz
air-ground mobile
in 2 megahertz
broadband aircraft
parameter
Aircraft antenna Average roll-
-15 dB
air-ground mobile
off toward GSO arc
broadband aircraft
parameter
Average FSS Satellite receiver
2.0 decibels/°Kelvin
FSS satellite receiver
gain-to-noise temperature
(dB/°K)
performance parameter
(G/T)
2.

Protecting GSO FSS Satellite Systems from Harmful Interference from Air-
Ground Mobile Broadband

103.
Qualcomm has provided technical information seeking to demonstrate that the aggregate
rise over thermal noise (∆T/T) from all of its air-ground mobile broadband base stations and all air-
ground mobile broadband airborne stations into the uplink of GSO satellites operating in the 14.0-14.5
GHz band would be less than one percent. 162 We generally seek comment on the accuracy and validity of
Qualcomm’s calculations and assumptions. For example, Qualcomm derived this ∆T/T based on its
assumption of an average GSO satellite receive gain-to-noise temperature (G/T) of 2.0 dB/°K. We seek
comment on the validity of Qualcomm’s proposed one percent ∆T/T based on a 2.0 dB/°K “averaged”
G/T instead of a “maximum” value from the currently deployed satellites. If the 2.0 dB/K does not
represent the “maximum” G/T value for deployed or planned FSS satellites for the typical CONUS
beams, we request that commenters provide the actual values from currently-deployed satellite
specifications. We also request that commenters address the validity of Qualcomm’s calculation of the
aggregated interference from its air-ground mobile broadband system, with a projected ∆T/T of 0.5
percent based on 150 air-ground mobile broadband base stations and 2 dB/°K averaged G/T. As satellite
receivers become more sensitive, would the air-ground mobile broadband service impede innovation in
GSO FSS operations?
104.
Qualcomm also asserts that the ∆T/T (or rise in aggregate noise floor) due to interference
from its air-ground mobile broadband system-equipped aircraft should be less than 0.5 percent based on
its assumptions of 2 dB/°K GSO satellite G/T and -15 dB average aircraft antenna roll-off toward the

162 According to ITU-R Recommendation S.1432, one percent of ∆T/T is the recommended limit for all sources of
interference from non-primary services.
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GSO satellite, as shown in Table 1 above. We request comment on the assumptions Qualcomm used in its
analysis and the resulting ∆T/T values, as well as Qualcomm’s claim that its TDD scheme would ensure
that total aggregated interference into the GSO arc would be less than 0.5 percent. We seek comment on
the appropriate interference protection criteria or additional technical measures we should consider to
protect current and future GSO FSS operations from secondary systems, such as the one proposed in the
Notice, in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band.163 Commenters should support their proposed criteria with technical
information.
3.

Potential Interference into NGSO Satellites from an Air-Ground Mobile
Broadband System

105.
Noting that there are currently no NGSO operations in 14.0-14.5 GHz band, Qualcomm
nonetheless asserts that its air-ground mobile broadband system would not cause harmful interference to a
possible future NGSO system, supporting this claim with technical assumptions such as 50 spot beams,
1000 km altitude, -7 dB/K satellite G/T, 500K noise temperature, 17.34 degree beamwidth with 300 km
beam diameter, and a frequency reuse factor of 3. Qualcomm concludes that the ∆T/T would be less than
one percent. We seek comment on the assumed NGSO system and its characteristics. We also seek
comment on any NGSO applications and services that may be in the planning stage in the 14.0-14.5 GHz
band, including the appropriate spectrum sharing criteria of such planned NGSO applications and services
with currently deployed FSS systems, particularly whether we should establish shut-off criteria for any
air-ground mobile broadband system, and whether those criteria should be based on the one percent ΔT/T
limit or some other limit. We seek comment on whether these or some other criteria could be established
to provide some certainty to existing air-ground mobile broadband systems at the time future NGSO
operations begin, and help ensure the success of both services. We acknowledge that any future NGSO
operation will have priority over air-ground mobile broadband, and we seek to ensure that both services
are able to operate in the future by providing guidance to both classes of users as to what might constitute
interference from air-ground mobile broadband into NGSO.
4.

Technical Rules to Protect TDRSS

106.
The Space Research Service has a secondary allocation in 14.0-14.2 GHz portion of the
band and NASA uses the allocation for TDRSS operations. Qualcomm states that its system will meet the
interference power density threshold necessary to afford TDRSS systems protection from harmful
interference. TDRSS protection limits are summarized in Table 2 below for the White Sands, NM (WSC)
site and the future Blossom Point, MD (BP) site.164

Table 2: TDRSS Interference Threshold Limits

Interference threshold limit
Frequency band
Reference percentage of time
measured at antenna output
14.0-14.05 GHz
-146 dBW/megahertz
Never to be exceeded
The TDRSS earth station sites and satellite locations are depicted in Table 3 below.

163 See, e.g., SIA May 2, 2013 ex parte at 3 (stating that, by increasing the aggregate noise floor, Qualcomm’s
proposal, over time, would limit the ability of the satellite industry to continue to innovate toward mobility and
miniaturization in response to market demand).
164 See Qualcomm Petition, App. A.
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Table 3: TDRSS Earth Station and Satellite Locations

Earth station site
Peak antenna gain (dBi)
Latitude/Longitude
TDRSS satellite
longitude degrees East
White Sands
66.4
N32 30’18.686”/
-174, -171, -167.5, -150
W106 36” 37.153”
-79, -62, -49, -47, -41
Blossom Point
66.7
N38 25’ 44”/
-12, -41, -47, -49,
W77 05’ 02”
-62, -79
The TDRSS earth station antenna pattern is modeled by
49 dBi for off axis angles
0.095° ≤ φ < 0.21°
32 - 25log10 (φ)
0.21° ≤ φ ≤ 48°°
-10 dBi
φ > 48°
where φ is the angle in degree from the main-lobe axis, as specified by the International
Telecommunication Union.165
107.
Based on these TDRSS earth station parameters, Qualcomm acknowledges that the
aggregate interference from an air-ground mobile broadband aircraft station could exceed -146
dBW/megahertz while the aircraft is in the boresight of the TDRSS beam. Even though the interference
event would last a very short time (less than a second), this level of interference may not be acceptable to
TDRSS operations. Qualcomm also conducted an analysis of the separation required between a TDRSS
site and an air-ground mobile broadband base station to avoid harmful interference from the air-ground
mobile broadband base station to TDRSS. The result showed that air-ground mobile broadband base
stations should be located farther than 70 km from the TDRSS sites, or that base stations within 70 km of
TDRSS sites should be restricted from using the lower portions of the band (14.0-14.05 GHz). We seek
comment on this analysis, and whether it varies depending on the air-ground mobile broadband system
design. We also propose to allow air-ground mobile broadband licensees to negotiate smaller
coordination zones where feasible to continue to protect TDRSS sites.
108.
We also observe that, in addition to the EIRP density mask requirements, ESV, VMES,
and ESAA licensees must meet specific EIRP density requirements towards the horizon in the 14.0-14.2
GHz sub-band while within the coordination distance of a TDRSS site. These additional EIRP density
requirements towards the horizon are intended to control potential interference to NASA’s TDRSS earth
stations and must be met regardless of the power transmitted in any other direction. We propose to place
similar specific EIRP density requirements towards the horizon on air-ground mobile broadband systems.
We seek comment on this proposal, and whether a different requirement may be appropriate for air-
ground mobile broadband.
5.

Technical Rules to Promote Sharing With RAS

109.
The RAS does not have an allocation in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band in the United States, but
footnote US342 permits RAS observations and encourages services allocated in the 14.47- 14.5 GHz
band to take all practicable steps to avoid causing harmful interference to RAS observations.166 While the
RAS does not have the protected status of an allocation, RAS operations are of scientific importance and
merit the regulatory requirement that licensees with an allocation take all practicable steps to

165 “Radiation Patterns for Earth Station Antenna to be used when they are not published”, ITU Radio Regulations,
Volume 2, Appendix 8, Annex 3 (2008).
166 47 C.F.R. §2.106 Footnote US342.
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accommodate RAS uses of spectrum. To this end, consistent with the requirements in footnotes US203
and US342, we propose to require air-ground mobile broadband to take all practicable steps to avoid
interference to those observations. We note that Qualcomm has stated that it can design its air-ground
mobile broadband system not to be used within a 500 km radius of RAS sites when radio astronomy
systems are operating. We seek comment on other possible system designs, and other methodologies for
ensuring that air-ground mobile broadband licensees take all practicable steps to avoid interference to
RAS.
6.

Emission Power Reduction in Air-Ground Mobile Broadband Base Stations
Near the Southern Border of the United States

110.
According to Qualcomm, air-ground mobile broadband base stations close to the southern
U.S. border or coastline would reduce emission power to ensure that signal levels are not high enough to
cause harmful interference to GSO FSS satellites. In the southern border or coastline area, the elevation
angle of air-ground mobile broadband base station antennas tends to be higher than the elevation angles of
air-ground mobile broadband base station antennas located further north, and gives rise to higher potential
for interference into the GSO arc. Reducing emission power would reduce the likelihood of interference
into the GSO arc from southern air-ground mobile broadband base station antennas emitting power at
higher elevation angles than typical for more northerly air-ground mobile broadband base stations. This
appears to be a situation that would apply to any air-ground mobile broadband system design. We seek
comment on this analysis. Based on this analysis, we seek comment on what power limits for base
stations close to the southern border or coastline would be adequate to protect GSO FSS satellites from
harmful interference. How should we define the areas that would have to meet this requirement? For
example, would it apply below a certain latitude? Is there a range of latitudes where emission power
should be scaled to provide the appropriate level of protection to FSS without unnecessarily hindering air-
ground mobile broadband operations? We also seek comment on other alternatives that may prove better
to protect FSS, while providing flexibility to air-ground mobile broadband licensees.
7.

EIRP Density Limits Along the GSO Arc from 45° W.L. to 150° W.L.

111.
We seek comment on whether the one percent aggregate ∆T/T from all air-ground mobile
broadband aircraft and base stations, as proposed by Qualcomm, is the appropriate protection level given
the assumption of the 2 dB/K GSO satellite receiver G/T. If 2 dB/K is not the “maximum” GSO satellite
G/T value for uplinks in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, then the one percent ∆T/T should be scaled to the
appropriate value. We further note that ITU-R Recommendation S.1432 recommends that no more than
one percent aggregate interference into primary FSS services come from “other” sources that are not
primary (e.g., secondary). 167
112.
We note that Qualcomm’s proposal suggests that, for 600 beams in an air-ground mobile
broadband system (150 base stations with four beams each), EIRP density from a single beam into the
GSO arc must be less than -74.5 dBW/Hz, and/or aggregate EIRP density into the GSO arc from all
beams must not be greater than -46.7 dBW/Hz, which is Qualcomm’s proposed limit. Under this
proposal, if the licensee increases the number of air-ground mobile broadband base stations from 150 to
250, EIRP density from a single beam and the aggregated EIRP density into any point in the GSO arc
would be proportionately reduced to -76.7 dBW/Hz and -48.9 dBW/Hz respectively. We seek comment
on this proposal. We note that it is unlikely that all air-ground mobile broadband base stations in a
system will operate at the same levels simultaneously. We seek comment on whether air-ground mobile
broadband licensees would benefit from the flexibility to distribute the power density of base stations,
according to traffic patterns and to optimize coordination with other, co-secondary, 14.0-14.5 GHz
licensees. We also seek comment whether we should consider changing the maximum GSO satellite G/T

167 See ITU-R Recommendation S.1432.
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from 2 dB/K to 6dB/K, and if so, if we should limit EIRP density into the GSO arc, assuming 600 beams,
of -78.5 dBW/Hz per beam and -50.7 dBW/Hz total, respectively.
8.

Aircraft Antenna Power Limits and Pointing Toward the GSO Arc

113.
Qualcomm bases its proposed air-ground mobile broadband system on aircraft antenna
transmit power of less than 3 dBW per beam, aircraft antenna average roll-off toward the GSO arc of
greater than 15 dB, and GSO satellite average G/T over CONUS of 2 dB/K, as shown in Table 1. Based
on these assumptions, Qualcomm states that the aggregate EIRP from all air-ground mobile broadband-
equipped aircraft should be less than -47 dBW/Hz, which would ensure a ∆T/T of less than 0.5 percent.
We seek comment on the validity of these assumptions and conclusions, and whether they may differ
across possible air-ground mobile broadband technologies. We seek comment whether, if we base an
EIRP limit on this analysis, such a limit should be defined in terms of an individual transmitter or the
aggregate EIRP.
114.
We also seek comment on the effect of aircraft roll and the resultant pointing of aircraft
antennas toward the GSO arc. Qualcomm states that in a worst-case aircraft roll of five degrees, the
aircraft antenna roll-off toward the GSO arc will be at least 20 dB and the ΔT/T will be no greater than
0.14 percent. We request comment on this analysis, how it may differ among different air-ground mobile
broadband technologies, and on what roll angle would be appropriate for requiring shutoff of the aircraft
station transmitter in order to prevent harmful interference to FSS from aircraft antennas pointing toward
the GSO arc.
9.

Compensation for Rain Fade

115.
We propose to allow air-ground mobile broadband base stations to increase power up to
six dB to compensate for “rain fade,” which occurs when water droplets in the air scatter and attenuate
radiofrequency signals, particularly at frequencies above 10 GHz, provided the EIRP density to the GSO
arc from an individual base station is less than -68.5 dBW/Hz for the air-ground mobile broadband system
with 150 base stations. In compensation for the increase in power, however, we seek comment on
whether we should require air-ground mobile broadband base stations to reduce the number of beams they
emit in order to protect FSS operations. For example, in order to increase power three dB, air-ground
mobile broadband base stations will have to reduce the number of beams they emit from four to two, and
to increase power six dB, air-ground mobile broadband base stations would be required to reduce the
number of beams they emit from four to one. We request comment on this proposal, and on any other
measures we should require or permit to allow licensees to compensate for rain fade. We seek comment
on whether reducing the number of beams would create service outages, the effect of the rain fade on
signal energy towards the GSO arc, and whether air-ground mobile broadband base stations needing more
power to compensate for rain could be accommodated by reducing power at other base stations as long as
the required ∆T/T is not exceeded at the GSO arc.
10.

Off-Axis EIRP Density in Directions Other than Along the GSO Arc

116.
Qualcomm did not address off-axis EIRP density in its proposal. We request comment
on what standards, if any, we should adopt for off-axis EIRP density in directions other than the GSO arc.
Such standards would only come into force in the event that a NGSO FSS system is launched and begins
operation. We note, however, that Qualcomm calculated an aggregate ∆T/T from air-ground mobile
broadband aircraft and base stations to the NGSO based on the assumption that the average NGSO
satellite G/T is -7 dB/K. The result showed that the interference to the NGSO satellite would be less than
one percent ∆T/T. This figure is within the ITU recommendation for all non-primary sources of
interference. We seek comment on what would be an appropriate limit for air-ground mobile broadband
interference into NGSO FSS. We also seek comment on alternate operational limitations, such as rules
requiring air-ground mobile broadband transmitter shut off if an NGSO satellite is in the line of sight of
the system or rules requiring power reduction based on orbital ephemeris information on NGSO satellite
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locations. As we do above, we seek comment on whether criteria could be established to provide some
certainty to existing air-ground mobile broadband systems at the time future NGSO operations begin.
11.

Out-of-Band Emissions for Two Adjacent Air-Ground Mobile Broadband
Systems

117.
We propose that if two separate licensees deploy air-ground mobile broadband systems
within separate portions of 14.0-14.5 GHz band, the power level of any emission outside either licensee’s
own frequency band shall be attenuated below 43 + 10log (P) dB at the frequencies one megahertz from
the edges of the licensee’s authorized band.168 We propose that compliance with this rule must be
measured by instruments employing a resolution bandwidth of 1 megahertz or greater, except that in the
one megahertz bands immediately adjacent to the licensee’s frequency band of operation, a resolution
bandwidth of at least 1 percent of the emission bandwidth of the fundamental emission of the transmitter
may be employed. A narrower resolution bandwidth is permitted in all cases to improve measurement
accuracy provided the measured power is integrated over the full required measurement bandwidth (that
is, one megahertz or one percent of the emission bandwidth, as specified). The emission bandwidth is
defined as the width of the signal between two points, one below the carrier center frequency and one
above the carrier center frequency, outside of which all emissions are attenuated by at least 26 dB below
the transmit power level. We seek comment on whether this out-of-band emission limit is adequate to
protect adjacent air-ground mobile broadband systems and users of spectrum blocks adjacent to the 14.0-
14.5 GHz band.
12.

Mitigating the Effects of Interference into Air-Ground Mobile Broadband
Operations

118.
As mentioned above, the air-ground mobile broadband service is proposed to be
secondary. In its filings on the Qualcomm Petition, SIA argues that the primary FSS operations in the
14.0-14.5 GHz band will interfere with the proposed secondary air-ground mobile broadband service and
argues that a non-robust service should not be permitted, even on a secondary basis.169 We recognize
SIA’s concerns. However we believe that, even with its secondary regulatory status, there may be
technical approaches that can be built into air-ground mobile broadband systems (frequency selection,
amount of bandwidth, error correction, incremental redundancy protocols, ability to handoff, etc.) to
mitigate any effects of interference that these systems may receive from primary systems in the band.170
Given the range of technical approaches, we believe that air-ground mobile broadband systems may be
robust enough in the event that interference from a primary system is received such that there will not be
any detrimental effect on users. We seek comment on this analysis. Are there any mitigation techniques
that air-ground mobile broadband providers should be required to use, or robustness requirements that air-
ground mobile broadband providers should be required to meet, to maintain reliable links in the
anticipated spectral environment?

168 In the event that one entity holds both air-ground mobile broadband licenses, the licensee must meet this limit at
one megahertz form the upper and lower edges of the full band.
169 See, e.g., SIA PR Comments at 8; SIA PN Comments at 6-9; SIA Feb. 8, 2013 ex parte at 3; SIA May 2, 2013 ex
parte
at 4.
170 For example, Qualcomm states that its system design includes features such as beam steering, base station
handoff, and frequency assignment that can, in addition to the spatial diversity inherent in the system, mitigate
harmful interference to the point where service slowdowns should be infrequent and of short duration. See
Qualcomm PR Reply at A4-A5. See also Qualcomm ex parte filing, Oct 2. 2012 at 39-44 (describing mechanisms
such as frequency hopping, incremental redundancy and hybrid automatic repeat request (HARQ), adaptive coding
and modulation (AMC), and error correction coding across a 100 MHz band).
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I.

Regulation of Air-Ground Mobile Broadband Operations on U.S.-Registered and
Non-U.S.-Registered Aircraft

119.
We propose rules to ensure that air-ground mobile broadband does not cause harmful
interference to services in other countries. Qualcomm’s system design is such that the country most
likely to be affected by air-ground mobile broadband base or aircraft stations is Canada. To address this
issue, we propose initially that any air-ground mobile broadband-equipped aircraft whose flight path takes
it into Canadian airspace must terminate operations while it is in Canadian airspace, until and unless the
government of Canada devises rules for air-ground mobile broadband, or permits aircraft in Canadian
airspace to use the system we propose to permit. Outside of Canadian airspace, we simply propose to
require shutoff of air-ground mobile broadband aircraft stations when their aircraft are outside the
CONUS or the U.S. territorial waters adjacent to the CONUS. In that regard, we seek comment on what
countries may be affected by air-ground mobile broadband operations, and how we might mitigate any
potential interference into those countries from air-ground mobile broadband.
120.
Air-ground mobile broadband base stations will also radiate signals into Canadian
airspace. We request comment on how and to what extent we should limit the transmission of air-ground
mobile broadband signals into Canadian airspace, in order to minimize the potential for harmful
interference.
121.
At some point, other countries may establish air-ground mobile broadband-like services.
Such services may radiate signals into U.S. airspace, particularly air-ground mobile broadband-like
services in Mexico or Caribbean countries. We request comment on what measures we should take to
coordinate with air-ground mobile broadband-like services in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, should such
services be implemented.
122.
Should Canada or other countries establish air-ground mobile broadband or permit the
use of air-ground mobile broadband emanating from the United States, we propose that air-ground mobile
broadband aircraft stations must obey the technical and operational rules of those countries when flying
within those countries’ airspace or over those countries’ national waters.
123.
Finally, we propose that any non-U.S. registered aircraft may contract for air-ground
mobile broadband equipment and service from any air-ground mobile broadband licensee. Any non-U.S.
registered aircraft using air-ground mobile broadband must adhere to any rules and restrictions imposed
by its country of registry as well as any international agreements that may be necessary to cover the
operations. We seek comment on these proposals.

J.

Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act

124.
Congress enacted CALEA171 on October 25, 1994, in order to preserve the ability of law
enforcement agencies to conduct electronic surveillance by requiring that telecommunications carriers
and manufacturers of telecommunications equipment modify and design their equipment, facilities, and
services to ensure that they have necessary surveillance capabilities.172 Since that time, the Commission
has taken several actions and released numerous orders implementing CALEA requirements. In the
CALEA First Report and Order, we concluded that CALEA applies to facilities-based broadband Internet
access providers and providers of interconnected voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service. Because

171 Pub. L.No.103-414, 108 Stat. 4279 (codified as amended in sections of 18 U.S.C. and 47 U.S.C.).
172 See 47 U.S.C. § 1002(a)(1-4). Jurisdiction to implement CALEA's provisions is shared by the Attorney General
of the United States, who consults with state and local law enforcement agencies, and the Federal Communications
Commission. Effective implementation of CALEA's provisions relies to a large extent on shared responsibility
among these governmental agencies and the service providers and manufacturers subject to the law's requirements.
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air-ground mobile broadband licensees will be such providers, the provisions of CALEA will apply to
them.173

V.

CONCLUSION

125.
The proposed air-ground mobile broadband service offers the potential for improved
broadband service to passengers in flight. Taking advantage of spatial diversity and careful design to
share spectrum with satellite operations, this proposal could increase the value of the 14.0-14.5 GHz band
to the public.

VI.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

1. Regulatory Flexibility Act
126.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. § 603, the Commission has
prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) regarding the possible significant economic
impact on a substantial number of small entities of the proposals addressed in this Notice. The IRFA is
set forth in Appendix B. Written public comments are requested on the IRFA. These comments must be
filed in accordance with the same filing deadlines for comments on the Notice, and they should have a
separate and distinct heading designating them as responses to the IRFA.
2. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995
127.
This document contains proposed new information collection requirements. 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 collection requirements
contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In
addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44
U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), we seek specific comment on how we might further reduce the information collection
burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.
3. Ex Parte

Rules

128.
This proceeding shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with
the Commission’s ex parte rules. Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written
presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the
presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral
ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all
persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made,
and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation
consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter’s
written comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to
such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant
page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them
in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are
deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with section 1.1206(b) of the
Commission’s rules.174 In proceedings governed by section 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has
made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing
oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment

173 See Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act and Broadband Access and Services, ET Docket No.
04-295, First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 05-153, 20 FCC Rcd 14989,
15001, ¶ 24 (2005).
174 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1206(b).
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filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt,
searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission’s ex
parte
rules.
4. Filing Requirements
129.
Comments and Replies. Pursuant to Sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission’s
rules,175 interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the
first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing
System (ECFS).176
 Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the
ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/">http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
 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.

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 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries
must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be
disposed of before entering the building.

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.

U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th
Street, SW, Washington DC 20554.
130.
Written comments by the public on the proposed and/or modified information collections
are due on or before 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. Written comments must be
submitted by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the proposed and/or modified information
collections on or before 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register. In addition to filing
comments with the Secretary, a copy of any comments on the information collection(s) contained herein
should be submitted to the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, Room TW-A325, 445 12th
Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554, or via the Internet to jboley@fcc.gov and to Virginia Huth, OMB
Desk Officer, 10236 NEOB, 725 – 17th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20503 or via the Internet to
vhuth@omb.eop.gov.
131.
Availability of Documents. Comments, reply comments, and ex parte submissions will
be available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal

175 See id. §§ 1.415, 1.419.
176 See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, GC Docket No. 97-113, Report and Order, FCC
98-56, 13 FCC Rcd 11322 (1998).
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Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, S.W., CY-A257, Washington, D.C., 20554. These
documents will also be available via ECFS. Documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Word
97, and/or Adobe Acrobat.
132.
People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with
disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call
the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).

VII.

ORDERING CLAUSES

133.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority contained in Sections 4(i),
4(j), 7(a), 302(a), 303(c), 303(e), 303(f), 303(g), 303(j), 303(r), and 303(y) of the Communications Act of
1934, as amended, http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS154&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&referencepositiontype=T&pbc=68D902CA&referenceposition=SP%3b17a3000024864&rs=WLW13.01">47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS154&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&referencepositiontype=T&pbc=68D902CA&referenceposition=SP%3b267600008f864&rs=WLW13.01">154(j), http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS157&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&referencepositiontype=T&pbc=68D902CA&referenceposition=SP%3b8b3b0000958a4&rs=WLW13.01">157(a), http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS302&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&pbc=68D902CA&rs=WLW13.01">302(a), http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS303&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&referencepositiontype=T&pbc=68D902CA&referenceposition=SP%3b4b24000003ba5&rs=WLW13.01">303(c), http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS303&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&referencepositiontype=T&pbc=68D902CA&referenceposition=SP%3b7fdd00001ca15&rs=WLW13.01">303(e), http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS303&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&referencepositiontype=T&pbc=68D902CA&referenceposition=SP%3bae0d0000c5150&rs=WLW13.01">303(f), http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS303&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&referencepositiontype=T&pbc=68D902CA&referenceposition=SP%3b16f4000091d86&rs=WLW13.01">303(g), http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS303&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&referencepositiontype=T&pbc=68D902CA&referenceposition=SP%3b267600008f864&rs=WLW13.01">303(j),
http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS303&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&referencepositiontype=T&pbc=68D902CA&referenceposition=SP%3b3505000063ea7&rs=WLW13.01">303(r), http://web2.westlaw.com/find/default.wl?mt=Westlaw&db=1000546&docname=47USCAS303&rp=%2ffind%2fdefault.wl&findtype=L&ordoc=2029537565&tc=-1&vr=2.0&fn=_top&sv=Split&tf=-1&referencepositiontype=T&pbc=68D902CA&referenceposition=SP%3b08af0000b8080&rs=WLW13.01">303(y), this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in GN Docket No. 13-114 IS ADOPTED.
134.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED pursuant to Sections 4(i) and (j) and 303(r) of
the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), (j), 303(r), and Section 1.407 of
the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.407, that the Petition for Rulemaking filed by Qualcomm, Inc. on
July 7, 2011, IS GRANTED to the extent provided in this Notice.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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APPENDIX A

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA),177 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 the Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking (Notice)
in GN Docket No. 13-114. 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 Notice for comments. The Commission will send a copy of the Notice, including this
IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA).178 In addition,
the Notice and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.179

A.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Notice

The Notice seeks to promote more intensive use of spectrum and spectrum sharing in order to
provide passengers aboard aircraft flying over the United States with expanded access to broadband
service. The air-ground mobile broadband service proposed would allow terrestrial-based air-ground
mobile broadband systems to provide service in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, while at the same time
protecting Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) operations in the band and accommodating other users of the
band, including Federal government licensees in the Fixed and Mobile Services, the Space Research
Service, and the Radio Astronomy Service (RAS).

B.

Legal Basis

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.

C.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which Rules Will
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 rules adopted herein.180 The RFA generally defines
the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,”
and “small governmental jurisdiction.”181 In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as
the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act.182 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

177 See 5 U.S.C. § 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. § 601-612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, (SBREFA) Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996).
178 See 5 U.S.C. § 603(a).
179 See 5 U.S.C. § 603(a).
180 5 U.S.C. § 604(a)(3).
181 5 U.S.C. § 601(6).
182 5 U.S.C. § 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of “small business concern” in 15 U.S.C. § 632).
Pursuant to the RFA, the statutory definition of a small business applies “unless an agency, after consultation with
the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after the opportunity for public comment,
establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the agency and publishes
such definition(s) in the Federal Register.” 5 U.S.C. § 601(3).

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additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA).183 Below, we further
describe and estimate the number of small entity licensees that may be affected by the adopted rules.
It does not appear that any small entities will be affected by the rules adopted herein.

D.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance
Requirements

The Notice proposes a number of rule changes that could affect the reporting, recordkeeping, and
other compliance requirements for small businesses licensed to provide the contemplated new service.
Among other things, these proposed rule changes include applying the information requirements and
procedures currently in Part 1 of the Commission’s rules to applications for air-ground mobile broadband
licenses.
Second, the Notice invites comment on whether to adopt interim reporting requirements to ensure
that licensees are making timely and quantifiable progress on their obligations to construct and provide
service. If the Commission adopted a rule requiring interim reporting requirements, the rule would
presumably require the licensee to demonstrate in some manner that it has taken efforts to construct its
air-ground mobile broadband system.
In addition, the Notice proposes requiring licensees to file a notification within 15 days of the end
of their ten-year license term demonstrating that they have met their build-out requirements. Specifically,
each construction notification would include electronic coverage maps and supporting documentation,
which must be truthful and accurate and must not omit material information that is necessary for the
Commission to determine compliance with its construction requirement.
Also, the Notice proposes requiring applicants for renewal licenses to file a detailed renewal
showing, demonstrating that they are providing service to the public or are using the spectrum for private,
internal communication to the extent permitted by the Commission, and substantially complying with the
Communications Act, and the Commission’s rules and policies, including any applicable performance
requirements.

E.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and
Significant Alternatives Considered

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.184
The Notice solicits comment on alternatives to the proposed rules for air-ground mobile
broadband elevation in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band.

F.

Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with the Proposed Rules

None.

183 Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. § 632 (1996).
184 5 U.S.C. § 603(c)(1), (c)(4).
44

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APPENDIX B

Proposed Rules

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to
amend 47 CFR parts 2 and 22 as follows:

PART 2 – Frequency Allocations And Radio Treaty Matters;

General Rules And Regulations

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.
2.
Section 2.106, the Table of Frequency Allocations, is amended as follows:
a. Page 49 is revised.
b. In the list of United States (US) Footnotes, footnote US133 is revised.
§ 2.106 Table of Frequency Allocations.
The revisions and additions read as follows:
* * * * *

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Table of Frequency Allocations 14-17.7 GHz (SHF)
Page 49
International Table
United States Table
FCC Rule Part(s)
Region 1 Table
Region 2 Table
Region 3 Table
Federal Table
Non-Federal Table
14-14.25
14-14.2
14-14.2
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space) 5.457A 5.457B 5.484A 5.506 5.506B
Space research US133
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space)
Public Mobile (22)
RADIONAVIGATION 5.504
NG54 NG183 NG187
Satellite Communications
Mobile-satellite (Earth-to-space) 5.504B 5.504C 5.506A
Mobile-satellite (Earth-to-space)
(25)
Space research
Space research
Aeronautical mobile
US133
5.504A 5.505
14.2-14.4
14.2-14.47
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space)
14.25-14.3
NG54 NG183 NG187
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space) 5.457A 5.457B 5.484A 5.506 5.506B
Mobile-satellite (Earth-to-space)
RADIONAVIGATION 5.504
Aeronautical mobile
Mobile-satellite (Earth-to-space) 5.504B 5.506A 5.508A
Space research
5.504A 5.505 5.508
14.3-14.4
14.3-14.4
14.3-14.4
FIXED
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space)
FIXED
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space)
5.457A 5.484A 5.506 5.506B
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space)
5.457A 5.457B 5.484A 5.506 5.506B
Mobile-satellite (Earth-to-space)
5.457A 5.484A 5.506 5.506B
MOBILE except aeronautical mobile
5.506A
MOBILE except aeronautical mobile
Mobile-satellite (Earth-to-space) 5.504B
Radionavigation-satellite
Mobile-satellite (Earth-to-space)
5.506A 5.509A
5.504B 5.506A 5.509A
Radionavigation-satellite
Radionavigation-satellite
5.504A
5.504A
5.504A
14.4-14.47
14.4-14.47
FIXED
Fixed
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space) 5.457A 5.457B 5.484A 5.506 5.506B
Mobile
MOBILE except aeronautical mobile
Mobile-satellite (Earth-to-space) 5.504B 5.506A 5.509A
Space research (space-to-Earth)
5.504A
14.47-14.5
14.47-14.5
14.47-14.5
FIXED
Fixed
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space)
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space) 5.457A 5.457B 5.484A 5.506 5.506B
Mobile
NG54 NG183 NG187
MOBILE except aeronautical mobile
Mobile-satellite (Earth-to-space)
Mobile-satellite (Earth-to-space) 5.504B 5.506A 5.509A
Aeronautical mobile
Radio astronomy
5.149 5.504A
US133 US203 US342
US133 US203 US342
14.5-14.8
14.5-14.7145
14.5-14.8
FIXED
FIXED
FIXED-SATELLITE (Earth-to-space) 5.510
Mobile
MOBILE
Space research
Space research
14.7145-14.8
MOBILE
Fixed
Space research
14.8-15.35
FIXED
14.8-15.1365
14.8-15.1365
MOBILE
MOBILE
Space research
SPACE RESEARCH
Fixed
US310
US310

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* * * * *

UNITED STATES (US) FOOTNOTES

* * * * *
US133 In the bands 14-14.2 GHz and 14.47-14.5 GHz, the following provisions shall apply to
the operations of Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (ESAA) and to the Aeronautical Mobile Service
(AMS):
(a) In the band 14-14.2 GHz, ESAA and AMS licensees planning to operate within radio line-of-
sight of the coordinates specified in 47 CFR 25.227(c) are subject to prior coordination with
NTIA in order to minimize harmful interference to the earth stations of NASA's Tracking and
Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS).
(b) In the band 14.47-14.5 GHz, operations within radio line-of-sight of the radio astronomy
stations specified in 47 CFR 25.226(d)(2) are subject to coordination with the National Science
Foundation in accordance with 47 CFR 25.227(d).
* * * * *

PART 22 –Public Mobile Services

3.
The authority citation for Part 22 continues to read as follows:
AUTHORITY: 47 U.S.C. 154, 222, 303, 309, and 332.
4.
Part 22 is amended by adding the following to the end of Subpart B
* * * * *
§ 22.232 14.0-14.5 GHz band subject to competitive bidding.
Mutually exclusive initial applications for 14.0 –14.5 GHz band licenses are subject to
competitive bidding. The general competitive bidding procedures set forth in 47 CFR Part 1,
Subpart Q will apply unless otherwise provided in this subpart.
§ 22.233 Designated entities in the 14.0-14.5 GHz bands.
a) Eligibility for small business provisions:
(1) A small business is an entity that, together with its affiliates, its controlling interests,
the affiliates of its controlling interests, and the entities with which it has an attributable material
relationship, has average gross revenues not exceeding $40 million for the preceding three years.
(2) A very small business is an entity that, together with its affiliates, its controlling
interests, the affiliates of its controlling interests, and the entities with which it has an attributable
material relationship, has average gross revenues not exceeding $15 million for the preceding
three years.
b) Bidding credits.
A winning bidder that qualifies as a small business as defined in this section or a consortium of small
businesses may use the bidding credit specified in § 1.2110(f)(2)(iii) of this chapter. A winning bidder
that qualifies as a very small business as defined in this section or a consortium of very small businesses
may use the bidding credit specified in § 1.2110(f)(2)(ii) of this chapter.
5.
Part 22 is amended by adding the following to the end of the Part:

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* * * * *

Subpart K – Air-Ground Mobile Broadband Service

§ 22.1100 Scope.
The rules in this subpart govern the licensing and operation of the air-ground mobile broadband service in
the 14.0-14.5 GHz band. The licensing and operation of these stations and systems is also subject to rules
elsewhere in this part that apply generally to the public mobile services. However, in case of conflict, the
rules in this subpart govern.
§ 22.1101 Definitions Associated With Air-Ground Mobile Service.
Air-Ground Mobile Broadband Service.. An air-ground mobile broadband service that operates in the
14.0 to 14.5 GHz band and provides high-data-rate connectivity between terrestrial ground stations and
aircraft stations flying above the contiguous United States (“CONUS”).
Air-Ground Mobile Broadband Equipped Aircraft. Aircraft equipped with air-ground mobile broadband
communications technology.
Base Stations. Fixed terrestrial-based air-ground mobile broadband communications stations that provide
air-ground mobile broadband to air-ground mobile broadband equipped aircraft.
§ 22.1102 Permissible communications.
The 14.0-14.5 GHz band may be used to provide air-ground mobile broadband. Such service shall be
provided in a manner consistent with §2.106 of this chapter.
§ 22.1104 Frequencies.
Two channel block(s) are available for assignment in the 14.0-14.5 GHz air-ground mobile broadband
service:
A Block: 14.0-XX.XX GHz
[B Block: XX.XX-14.5 GHz]
§ 22.1106 Service Areas.
Service areas for 14.0-14.5 GHz air-ground mobile broadband are available on a nationwide basis. For
the purposes of this paragraph, “nationwide” refers to a geographic market area covering the contiguous
United States, i.e. the United States excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and island territories
§ 22.1110 Regulatory status.
(a) Single authorization. Authorization will be granted to provide any or a combination of the following
services in a single license: common carrier, non-common carrier, private internal communications, and
broadcast services. A licensee may render any kind of communications service consistent with the
regulatory status in its license and with the Commission's rules applicable to that service. An applicant or
licensee may submit a petition at any time requesting clarification of the regulatory status for which
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authorization is required to provide a specific communications service.
(b) Designation of regulatory status in initial application. An applicant shall specify in its initial
application if it is requesting authorization to provide common carrier, non-common carrier, private
internal communications, or broadcast services, or a combination thereof.
(c) Amendment of pending applications. The following rules apply to amendments of a pending
application.
(1) Any pending application may be amended to:
(i) Change the carrier regulatory status requested, or
(ii) Add to the pending request in order to obtain common carrier, non-common carrier,
private internal communications, or broadcast services status, or a combination thereof, in
a single license.
(2) Amendments to change, or add to, the carrier regulatory status in a pending application are
minor amendments filed under §1.927 of this chapter.
(d) Modification of license. The following rules apply to amendments of a license.
(1) A licensee may modify a license to:
(i) Change the regulatory status authorized, or
(ii) Add to the status authorized in order to obtain a combination of services of different
regulatory status in a single license.
(2) Applications to change, or add to, the carrier status in a license are modifications not requiring
prior Commission authorization. The licensee must notify the Commission within 30 days of the
change. If the change results in the discontinuance, reduction, or impairment of an existing
service, the licensee is subject to the provisions of § [discontinuance rule].
§ 22.1111 Eligibility.
Any entity other than those precluded by section 310 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47
U.S.C. 310, is eligible to hold a license under this part.
§22.1112 License period.
Initial authorizations will have a term not to exceed ten years from the date of initial issuance or renewal.
§ 22.1113 Construction requirements.
Licensees of 14.0-14.5 GHz air-ground mobile broadband, must, as a performance requirement, make a
showing of “substantial service” in their license area within the prescribed license term set forth in
§[license term rule].
(a) “Substantial service” is defined as service which is sound, favorable and substantially above a level of
mediocre service which just might minimally warrant renewal. Failure by any licensee to meet this
requirement will result in forfeiture of the license and the licensee will be ineligible to regain it.
(b) Each 14.0-14.5 GHz air-ground mobile broadband system subject to the requirements of this section
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must demonstrate substantial service within 10 years after grant of the authorization. Substantial service
may be demonstrated by, but is not limited to, the following “safe harbor” provision:
(1) The construction and operation of ground stations that provides robust, uninterrupted service
on routes serving at least 50 airports classified as large or medium hubs (as measured by the most recent
Federal Aviation Administration data for annual passenger enplanements) within ten years of license
grant.
§ 22.1114 Renewal Criteria.
Air-ground mobile broadband licensees in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band must file a renewal application in
accordance with the provisions set forth in §1.949, and must make a showing of substantial service,
independent of its performance requirements, as a condition for renewal at the end of each license term.
§ 22.1115 Geographic partitioning and spectrum disaggregation.
(a) Eligibility.
(1) Parties seeking approval for partitioning and disaggregation shall request from the
Commission an authorization for partial assignment of a license pursuant to §1.948.
(2) Licensees in 14.0-14.5 GHz air-ground mobile broadband may apply to partition their
licensed geographic service area or disaggregate their licensed spectrum at any time following the
grant of their licenses.
(b) Filing Requirements. Parties seeking approval for geographic partitioning, spectrum disaggregation,
or a combination of both must apply for a partial assignment of authorization by filing FCC Form 603
pursuant to § 1.948 of this chapter. Each request for geographic partitioning must include an attachment
defining the perimeter of the partitioned area by geographic coordinates to the nearest second of latitude
and longitude, based upon the 1983 North American Datum (NAD83). Alternatively, applicants may
specify an FCC-recognized service area (e.g., Basic Trading Area, Economic Area, Major Trading Area,
Metropolitan Service Area, or Rural Service Area), county, or county equivalent, in which case,
applicants need only list the specific FCC-recognized service area, county, or county equivalent names
comprising the partitioned area.
(c) License Term. The license term for a partitioned license area or disaggregated spectrum license is the
remainder of the original licensee's license term.
(d) Performance Requirements. Each party to a geographic partitioning, spectrum disaggregation, or a
combination of both must individually meet any applicable performance requirements (i.e., construction
and operation requirements). If a licensee fails to meet any performance requirements on or before the
required date, its authorization will terminate automatically on that date without further Commission
action pursuant to §1.946 of this chapter.
(e) Unjust Enrichment. Licensees making installment payments or that received a bidding credit, that
partition their licenses or disaggregate their spectrum to entities that do not meet the eligibility standards
for installment payments or bidding credits, are subject to the unjust enrichment requirements of §1.2111
of this chapter.
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§ 22.1116 Initial authorization.
(a) An applicant must file a single application for an initial authorization for all markets won and
frequency blocks desired. Initial authorizations shall be granted in accordance with §§[frequencies and
service areas rules]. Applications for individual sites are not required and will not be accepted, except
where required for environmental assessments, in accordance with §§1.1301 through 1.1319 of this
chapter.
(b) Initial authorizations for 14.0-14.5 GHz air-ground mobile broadband shall be for ____ megahertz of
spectrum in accordance with §[frequencies rule]. Authorizations will be on a nationwide service area
basis as defined in § XX.X06.
§ 22.1118 Discontinuance of Service.
(a) A 14.0-14.5 GHz air-ground mobile broadband licensee’s authorization will automatically terminate,
without specific Commission action, if it permanently discontinues service. Permanent discontinuance of
service is defined as 180 consecutive days during which a licensee is not providing service to aircraft or
subscribers
(b) Filing Requirements. A licensee that permanently discontinues service as defined in this section must
notify the Commission of the discontinuance within 10 days by filing FCC Form 601 or 605 requesting
license cancellation. An authorization will automatically terminate, without specific Commission action,
if service is permanently discontinued as defined in this section, even if a licensee fails to file the required
form requesting license cancellation.
(c) Extension Request. A licensee may file a request for a longer discontinuance period for good cause.
An extension request must be filed at least 30 days before the end of the 180-day discontinuance period.
The filing of an extension request will automatically extend the discontinuance period a minimum of the
latter of an additional 30 days or the date upon which the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau acts on
the request.
§ 22.1120 Protecting GSO Satellite Systems from Harmful Interference from Air-Ground Mobile
Broadband.
The aggregate increase in interference (ΔT/T) from all air-ground mobile broadband aircraft and base
stations into the uplink of GSO satellites shall not exceed one percent. This one percent ∆T/T limit may
be met by complying with subsections (a), (b) and (c) below:
a) For a baseline air-ground mobile broadband system consisting of 600 beams (e.g., 150 base
station sites and 4 beams per site) operating on a given band of spectrum, the transmitted power
spectral density from a single base station beam into the GSO arc must not exceed -74.5 dBW/Hz.
If the number of base station beams is increased beyond 600, then the total transmitted power
toward the GSO arc must be adjusted accordingly, such that the total transmitted power toward
the GSO arc from all beams is not greater than -46.7 dBW/Hz. If the number of air-ground
mobile broadband base stations increases from 150 to 250, the single beam EIRP density must be
less than the value

n
74.5  10 Log(
) dBW / Hz
for 150  n  250
(1)
150
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and the aggregate EIRP density from all beams must be less than

n
46.7  10 Log (
) dBW / HZ
for 150  n  250
(2)
150
where n is the number of base stations.
b) Transmissions from an air-ground mobile broadband aircraft stations must not exceed an EIRP
density of 3 dBW/2 megahertz. Furthermore, the aggregate EIRP from all air-ground mobile
broadband aircraft stations toward the GSO arc must not exceed -47 dBW/Hz. When deriving the
aggregate EIRP density toward the GSO arc, the aircraft cruise level roll angle of ±5° in
elevation must be taken into account.
c) Every air-ground mobile broadband base station may increase its transmit power by up to 6 dB to
compensate for rain fade. In compensation for the increase in power, the air-ground mobile
broadband base station must reduce the number of beams it transmits to maintain the same
maximum transmitted power.
§ 22.1122 Out of Band Emissions (OOBE) Requirement for Two Separate Air-Ground Mobile
Broadband Systems.

If two separate licensees deploy air-ground mobile broadband systems within distinct portions of
the 14.0 to 14.5 GHz band, the power level of any emission outside a air-ground mobile
broadband licensee’s frequency band of operation shall be attenuated below the transmitter power
of P watts (with averaging performed only during periods of transmission) within the licensee’s
band of operation by at least 43 + 10 log (P) dB. Compliance with this rule shall be measured via
use of instrumentation employing a resolution bandwidth of 1 megahertz or greater, except that in
the 1 megahertz bands immediately adjacent to the licensee’s frequency band of operation, a
resolution bandwidth of at least 1 percent of the emission bandwidth of the fundamental emission
of the transmitter may be employed. A narrower resolution bandwidth is permitted in all cases to
improve measurement accuracy provided the measured power is integrated over the full required
measurement bandwidth (that is, 1 megahertz or 1 percent of the emission bandwidth, as
specified). The emission bandwidth is defined as the width of the signal between two points, one
below the carrier center frequency and one above the carrier center frequency, outside of which
all emissions are attenuated by at least 26 dB below the transmit power level.
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STATEMENT OF

CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI

Re:
Expanding Access to Broadband and Encouraging Innovation through Establishment of an Air-
Ground Mobile Broadband Secondary Service for Passengers Aboard Aircraft in the 14.0-14.5
GHz Band
, GN Docket No. 13-114, RM-11640.
One of my favorite comedians, Louis C.K. has a terrific bit where he jokes about sitting next to somebody
on a plane who complains about the quality of the in-flight Wi-Fi.
The punch line was that it’s ridiculous for someone to be complaining about technology when he is
“sitting in a chair in the sky connecting to the Internet!”
While we like to think of ourselves as Louis C.K. in this anecdote – the person with some perspective and
modest expectations – the reality is that we expect and often need to be able to get online 24/7, at home,
in an office or on a plane. And four years after Louis C.K. first told that joke, those aren’t unrealistic
expectations.
With today's item, we take an important step to improve in-flight broadband service.
A little background.
There are two types of current in-flight broadband service: satellite-based and air-to-ground. Both are
licensed by the FCC.
The satellite systems, known as Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft, use satellite antennas installed on the top
of planes to communicate with satellite space stations.
This service, operated by multiple licensees, shares 1 GHz of spectrum among the licensees and with
many other Fixed-Satellite Service operators.
Air-to-ground systems deliver in-flight broadband through a ground-based network that communicates
with an antenna on the bottom of a plane, which connects to an onboard Wi-Fi system providing service
throughout the cabin.
The current air-ground licensee operates with just 4 MHz in the 800 MHz band.
This item is focused on meeting the growing demand for in-flight broadband by freeing up spectrum for
use for air-to-ground services.
Of course, identifying new spectrum for new uses has been an FCC priority for the past several years.
We’ve worked to free up spectrum for use with traditional auctions. We've worked to reallocate spectrum
for mobile broadband from both commercial and government bands, and we've worked to share spectrum
where reallocation isn't possible. We’ve removed regulatory barriers to terrestrial and other flexible
spectrum use. We’ve cleared new bands for mobile broadband. And we’ve freed up unlicensed spectrum
for dynamic use.
By freeing up 30 MHz in the WCS band and 40 MHz in the AWS-4 band, in addition to 10 MHz we’ll
auction in the H-Block and spectrum that will be freed up by innovative new policies like incentive
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auctions and spectrum sharing in the 3.5 GHz band, the Commission is on track to exceed its goal of
unleashing 300 MHz for broadband by 2015.
Increasing the availability of spectrum – and hitting the long-term goal of 500 MHz by 2020 will require a
great deal of ongoing work.
The game is certainly worth the candle because a robust mobile ecosystem will drive economic growth,
job creation, and our country’s global competitiveness.
Today’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would free up, for secondary use, 500 megahertz of spectrum,
for a new Air-Ground Mobile Broadband service.
So we would be going for 4 megahertz of spectrum for air-to-ground to 504 megahertz.
This service would help meet consumer demand by offering airline passengers access to better in-flight
broadband and will increase competitive pressure on current systems to improve the quality of their in-
flight services.
Specifically, the proposal could provide broadband capacity of up to 300 gigabits per second on a
combined basis. This will enable business and leisure travelers aboard aircraft in the United States to be
more productive and have more choices in entertainment, communications, and social media, and it could
lower prices.
Today’s proposal is also designed to ensure protection for existing commercial and federal users in this
band.
Namely, Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) licensees in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band provide critical operations for
the U.S. media, banking, retail, and transportation sectors and have a long and effective history of
spectrum sharing and coordination.
These licensees will continue to have primary rights and protection from interference from this secondary
service.
The record to date suggests that spatial diversity will allow coexistence, and that this would be a strongly
beneficial and efficient use of spectrum.
Of course, the Commission will expect engagement from all stakeholders to help identify appropriate
safeguards to protect current and future FSS operations, as well as federal users in the band.
And we need to continue to facilitate forward-thinking proposals like this one that help move us toward
more efficient and productive use of our limited spectrum resources.
Today’s Notice demonstrates how technology and innovation are enabling new solutions to meet
spectrum demand, while protecting incumbent users.
I thank Kate Dumouchel, Renee Gregory, Michael Steffen, and the terrific teams in IB, WTB, and OET
for their work on this item.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN

Re:
Expanding Access to Broadband and Encouraging Innovation through Establishment of an Air-
Ground Mobile Broadband Secondary Service for Passengers Aboard Aircraft in the 14.0-14.5
GHz Band,
GN Docket No. 13-114, RM-11640.
For about a decade, the Commission has seen a steady increase in interest for high-speed Internet,
on airplanes, and we have taken a number of actions to address this trend. In 2005, the FCC reconfigured
the 800 megahertz band, to provide four megahertz of spectrum for broadband service to airline
consumers. Last year, the Commission adopted rules to further enable fixed satellite service, or FSS,
licensees, to provide broadband service on aircraft.
But the record before the agency demonstrates a need to do more in order to satisfy consumer
demand for quality inflight broadband service. A recent study predicts that the number of aircrafts
offering broadband service will continue to rise from about 3,000 in 2012, to 15,000 by 2021. Today’s
airline passengers expect the same level of broadband service that is available on the ground. It appears,
however, that current inflight options carry higher prices but offer much lower speeds, than terrestrial
broadband.
Fortunately, the record before the agency also suggests that there could be at least one viable
option to meet the demand for improved inflight service. The NPRM states that a terrestrial-based Air-to-
Ground Mobile broadband service using 150 to 250 base stations in the 14 GHz band could provide 300
Gigabits per second to passengers on aircrafts. This broadband service would receive secondary status
and there would be technical rules to protect primary licensees, such as Fixed Satellite Services in the K-
U Band, and co-secondary Federal agencies. The key to this type of band sharing is spatial diversity.
FSS earth station antennas would point to the south and above the horizon; while Air-to-Ground service
base stations would point to the north.
To be sure, many of the rules proposed in this NPRM were initiated by a 2011 petition that
Qualcomm filed. The International Bureau, however, put this petition out for public comment. This
process allowed for the development of a substantial engineering analysis of the potential technical issues
that could arise if this service is permitted in the 14 GHz band. Today, we seek comment on initial
proposals to address those issues. And, as is the normal course at the Commission, we will keep an open
mind until the record is closed. We are proposing a number of rules that could lead to other entities
offering this service. For example, consistent with Section 309(j) of the Communications Act, we
propose to use competitive bidding when mutually exclusive applications are accepted for filing.
In addition, this item seeks comment on the proper geographic licensing schemes, secondary
market proposals, and bidding credits for small businesses that could be applied to this service. These
policies promote the Commission’s traditional interests in competition, innovation, and investment.
Therefore, I am pleased to support the adoption of this NPRM, which is the result of an interoffice effort
that included several members of the International Bureau, the Office of Engineering and Technology,
and the Wireless Bureau. I wish to thank them all, for their contributions, to this item.
55

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-66

STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL

Re:
Expanding Access to Broadband and Encouraging Innovation through Establishment of
an Air-Ground Mobile Broadband Secondary Service for Passengers Aboard Aircraft in the
14.0-14.5 GHz Band
, GN Docket No. 13-114, RM-11640.
Count me as someone who will acknowledge that being disconnected on a flight has benefits—
like quiet time to read, uninterrupted by the dogged buzz of a smartphone. When I board an airplane, I
still bring piles of paper to comb through and review. While my staff would never admit it, I am pretty
sure they relish the time when I am up in the air and they can get work done without the usual blitz of e-
mails from me.
But despite the benefits for my staff, in our hyperconnected age, we need and expect access to
connectivity and content anytime and anywhere. The world simply does not wait for us to get off the
plane. We expect information at our fingertips at all times. We expect to stay in touch with our loved
ones, our jobs, and our communities wherever we go.
Air travel stands out as one of the few places where we can’t always rely on a connection. Being
cut off can mean we miss an important e-mail, critical news from home, or the chance to share a time-
sensitive document. Although new broadband services are now on some aircraft, they are not ubiquitous.
For frequent travelers, the routine of shutting off the wireless connections on our smartphones, tablets,
and laptops when we board is all too familiar.
So I support today’s rulemaking, which proposes to establish a new, terrestrial-based air-ground
mobile broadband service in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band for passengers aboard aircraft. This system would
use time-division duplex communications to provide a link between base stations and aircraft. Yet within
each aircraft communications between passenger devices would be carried by short-range links like Wi-
Fi. According to some, using 500 megahertz of spectrum in this band could sustain data rates to aircraft
of up to 300 gigabits per second. Impressive. Although we can trust, we should also verify. So in the
months ahead, as we gather a record in response to this proposal, I want to better understand these claims.
In addition, I want to ensure that the proposed new service, which would be secondary to existing services
in the band, will not cause harmful interference. We also must ensure that as we move forward we take
steps to create a robust environment for competition in the provision of broadband services to passengers
aboard aircraft. And if we are successful, my staff will get to hear from me more often.
Thank you to the International Bureau, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and the Office
of Engineering and Technology for your work on this issue.
56

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-66

STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI

Re:
Expanding Access to Broadband and Encouraging Innovation through Establishment of an Air-
Ground Mobile Broadband Secondary Service for Passengers Aboard Aircraft in the 14.0–14.5
GHz Band
, GN Docket No. 13-114, RM-11640.
It’s happened to almost every sports fan. You’re flying during the NFL playoffs or March
Madness, you boot up your laptop (eager to see how the Kansas City Chiefs or University of Kansas
Jayhawks are doing), and lo and behold—there’s no Wi-Fi. Or worse, you get a connection, but the
broadband is so slow and pricey that you wish you hadn’t.
Like many Americans, I have been frustrated by the lack of high-speed broadband service when I
fly. Some flights don’t offer any broadband service at all. Others do, but speeds are usually much slower
than what we enjoy on the ground, and it’s expensive. So what does this mean? Lower productivity for
business travelers and less enjoyable flights for vacationers.
That’s why I was pleased to learn about Qualcomm’s proposed air-ground mobile broadband
system. Last October, I had the opportunity to see firsthand some of the equipment being developed by
Qualcomm in San Diego. This system has the potential to deliver a much better broadband experience for
members of the flying public. Because it would use a wide swath of spectrum, the system’s data
throughput would be much greater than current onboard options. For passengers, that should mean higher
speeds and the ability to access a wider range of applications, like video. Moreover, injecting additional
competition into the air-ground broadband market should lead current service providers to lower prices
and to improve their quality of service.
These prospects are exciting, but we also have to be careful not to get ahead of ourselves. Today,
we are simply taking the step of seeking comment on establishing a new air-ground mobile broadband
service in the 14.0–14.5 GHz band. Because this new service would have secondary status, we will have
to ensure that it would not interfere with the band’s incumbent users. I hope that in time, the record in
this proceeding will include detailed engineering studies that will help us assess whether our proposal
today would preserve the ability of current Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) providers to conduct their
operations and to innovate in the 14.0–14.5 GHz band.
Finally, I would like to thank the staff of the International Bureau, Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau, and Office of Engineering and Technology for all of their hard work on this NPRM. Like so
many Commission items, today’s NPRM resulted from collaboration among multiple Bureaus and
Offices, and our work product is strengthened substantially by such a team effort.
57

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