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March 22, 2012

FCC Plans to Open Satellite Airwaves to More Wireless Phones

More satellite airwaves may soon be available to wireless phones after Federal telecommunications on Wednesday began deliberating on new regulations. Discussion included setting standards on how companies are to implement those regulations.

Rules are necessary to allow more access to wireless data services for consumers, according to the FCC. Deliberations come after the FCC declined Dish Network Corp’s request to use its satellite airwaves to provide terrestrial internet services earlier this month. The agency is also planning to revoke a conditional waiver given to LightSquared, a wireless startup, after government tests discovered the possibility of LightSquared’s satellite airwaves knocking out GPS devices. LightSquared was allowed to use its satellite airwaves to build a terrestrial wireless broadband service.

FCC also plans to set up new interoperability standards that will govern wireless phone companies using the 700MHz airwaves band, including AT&T and Verizon, both of which say the new interoperability requirements will not cause any interference problems since they do not operate exclusively on that frequency. The agency hopes that by considering technical rules for future handsets that operate across the entire band, smaller phone companies will be able to offer new handsets to their customers.

According FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, a preferable solution would be an industry-wide solution that would see voluntary interoperability standards. As the agency’s current program access rules expire in October, the agency may annul the requirement for cable providers to offer competitors affiliated channels. The large cable providers argue that this requirement is no longer necessary while smaller cable providers push for the renewal of current rules.

Edited by Braden Becker

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