The military and other government agencies, collectively referred to as “federal” entities, rely on spectrum dependent solutions such as radars, sensors, radios and satellites to complete their missions. In order to ensure that such devices operate without interference, all commercial systems seeking to operate on a co-equal basis with federal networks must communicate their intended spectrum use via a multi-step process called coordination. 
Prior to filing a commercial application with the FCC, applicants who are considering using certain spectrum bands shared with federal users (e.g. the bands near 400 MHz, 2025-2110 MHz, 2200-2290 MHz, 8000-8400 MHz, 20.2-21.2 GHz and 30-31 GHz) are encouraged to socialize their plans through the following informal satellite frequency coordination (also referred to as “pre-coordination”) process: 

  1. Conduct a frequency overlap check between federal and non-federal spectrum allocations
  2. Inform federal agencies via the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of intended frequency plans
  3. Receive comments and data from the agencies analysis, if appropriate
  4. Engage in technical discussions
  5. Find an agreeable path forward
  6. Submit application and initiate the formal coordination process

A proper pre-coordination involves first comparing the frequency allocations of intended commercial use against federal allocations. To perform this overlap check, we recommend comparing the international, federal and non-federal tables, which can be found here. Additionally, federal frequency assignment principles can be found in chapter eight of NTIA’s Manual of Regulations for Federal Radiofrequency Spectrum Management (often referred to as the “Redbook”).

After the frequency overlap check is complete, it is important to engage with NTIA to initiate pre-coordination. The NTIA is a government agency that manages federal use of spectrum for agencies like DoD, DOC/NOAA/NESDIS, and NASA. While specific coordination procedures differ from one agency to another it is of utmost importance to communicate frequency plans and justifications (the earlier the better) with the appropriate agencies.

While the Commercial Small Satellite Spectrum Management Association (CSSMA) does not officially handle pre-coordination, they often host events that can ease introductions to relevant federal agencies.

Friday, April 5, 2024