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Spectrum Policy and the Future of Satellites - Agenda

There is a growing demand for spectrum resources that have traditionally been reserved separately for terrestrial or satellite uses. In an effort to expand their services, spectrum users are looking to use or share the bands reserved for others. While there are some regulatory provisions to enable sharing of spectrum, current guidelines do not facilitate sharing among satellite or terrestrial services. It is therefore timely to address pressing concerns about spectrum policy as it relates to the future of satellites.

This year’s roundtable centered on the tensions between satellite use of spectrum and terrestrial uses. What new approaches should policy-makers consider in relation to sharing of satellite and terrestrial spectrum? What provisions prevent the highest and best uses of spectrum? And who should manage the possible shared usage?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Session I.  Orbiting 2018
We begin with a short presentation by Sean Casey, Atlas Space Operations, and a discussion of the state of satellites with respect to their role in supplying Americans with vital communications. So much has changed since the laws and regulations relating to satellite communications were first established. Specifically, the group will consider present and future communications needs; the roles that international regulation and spectrum coordination play in the provision of satellite services to the U.S.; and how current laws and restrictions, such as the Orbit Act of 1998, should or should not apply to the administration of satellite spectrum.

Session II.  Bringing Satellites Down to Earth
The role of satellite versus terrestrial communications has blurred, spurred by new services (e.g., 5G), and changed attitudes towards regulation (e.g., flexible use). Is the satellite-terrestrial distinction still functional and useful? Can satellites share spectrum in C-band or other newer bands (Ku-, Ka-, V-, etc.) with terrestrial licensees? What issues would that pose? In this session, Tom Hazlett, Hugh H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics, Clemson University, will give lead-off remarks about the role of satellite versus terrestrial communications and challenges to sharing spectrum.

Session III.  Working Groups
The Roundtable will break into three working groups with the aim of developing proposal and recommendations that will address the most pressing issues in their subject area. In each case, what is the problem you are solving, how do you solve it, and who specifically needs to do what to achieve the goal?

  1. Fostering Competition and Cooperation – to what extent is competition an answer to the better use of spectrum currently assigned to satellites? How do satellite and terrestrial service providers compete and cooperate – and, conversely, what restrictions prevent healthy competition and cooperation? What specific measures will best foster the desired outcomes?
  2. Flexible Use and Sharing – considering all bands where satellite and terrestrial licensees have spectrum and in which there could be flexible or shared uses, what measures would foster the highest and best use of that spectrum? What are the trade-offs? Who needs to do what to bring about those uses/sharing?
  3. License Rights and Interference Standards – will consider various new approaches to interference standards, allocations, and license rights in relation to the possible sharing of satellite and terrestrial spectrum. How can those approaches help resolve the issues identified in satellite spectrum sharing and other issues arising from the morning’s discussion?

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Session IV.  Working Group Reports

Session V.  Refining Recommendations and Moving Forward Are there themes and/or cross-cutting measures that arise from the recommendations of the working groups? What refinements are appropriate? Who needs to do what to make these recommendations effective?