FCC Says Providers Can Use Ground Spectrum
By Yuki Noguchi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Some satellite phone operators got a big break from federal regulators
yesterday and will now be able to transmit calls in urban areas where
their signals had been too weak to penetrate the walls of buildings.
The Federal Communications Commission said it will permit those
companies to reuse spectrum on the ground that was originally intended
to beam information to and from space, so satellite phone users will
be able to get cell-phone-like service in metropolitan areas.
Satellite phones are easy to use in deserts or on the ocean, where
there is a clear line of sight to the sky. But they encounter problems
when a building or roof gets in the way. The new ruling allows
satellite firms to solve the problem by retransmitting the signal on
Satellite firms such as Reston-based Mobile Satellite Ventures LP and
Arlington-based Iridium Satellite LLC, as well as Ico Global
Communications of London and Globalstar Telecommunications Ltd. of San
Jose -- all of which lobbied for the change -- will now be able to
install network equipment on the ground.
The FCC's ruling allows any mobile satellite service provider to reuse
its spectrum on the ground, as long as it has the technical capability
and gains FCC approval to offer that service.