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May 9th, 2018

Expansion by the FCC of the C-Band Spectrum Opposed by NPR - A Current Infosite Report

In the Tuesday, May 8 edition of Current at their infosite, Doug Halonen reports that NPR is fighting a FCC plan that could require the broadcaster to share satellite spectrum frequencies with companies that provide smartphone and other broadband wireless services.

NPR and commercial broadcasters currently use the frequencies at issue — the C-band in the 3.7–4.2 GHz range — to deliver programming to stations via satellite. However, as part of a wide-ranging effort to free up spectrum for use by smartphones and other broadband services, the FCC is considering allowing wireless carriers such as T-Mobile and Verizon to access the band and other frequencies. In an inquiry launched in August, the FCC sought comment about how the frequencies could best be opened to wireless companies. It also asked whether it should consider moving licensees now using the band to other frequencies.

As the world goes wireless, as consumers rely more heavily on their mobile devices, we need to keep up,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement about the inquiry.

In a series of filings and lobbying visits, NPR has said that sharing the band could cause interference with the programming it and other networks deliver to stations.

NPR is concerned that additional terrestrial use of the C-band spectrum, particularly for mobile broadband, would threaten the public’s access to public radio station broadcasts of Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, and other popular public radio programming,” NPR said in comments filed on October 2.

In the November 15 reply comments, the network added, “We believe and urge the commission to accept that current users of C-band frequencies … must retain primacy of their use and that additional uses of these vital C-band frequencies be permitted only if the absolute integrity of these current uses is protected and assured.”

In an April 30 follow-up meeting with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, NPR representatives reiterated the network’s arguments against sharing the spectrum, according to an FCC lobbying disclosure filing. O’Rielly wrote in a blog post last year that he supported a plan to allocate the band to mobile wireless, with existing licensees either protected or “otherwise accommodated.”

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