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FAA Sets Earth-to-Space Frequencies

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Federal Communications Commission has issued an order to provide for the efficient licensing of two-way in-flight broadband services, including Internet access, to passengers and flight crews in aircraft.

The order allocates Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (ESAA) specific frequencies on the spectrum for transmissions from Earth to space.

The FCC's order allocates ESAA on a primary basis in the 11.7-12.2 GHz (space-to-Earth) band, allocating ESAA on an unprotected basis in the 10.95-11.2 GHz and 11.45-11.7 GHz (space-to-Earth) bands, and allocating ESAA on a secondary basis in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band (Earth-to-space).

The order comes in light of the FCC's recognition in 2005 of the emergence of the new market for geostationary-orbit (GSO) Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) operations. The allocation provides for more flexible use of the bands while protecting existing terrestrial and satellite services from harmful interference, according to the FCC.

The FCC's order requires ESAA licensees "to coordinate their operations with stations in the Space Research Service and Radioastronomy Service to prevent any interference, and adopts technical rules for the operation of ESAA systems to ensure that ESAA systems do not interfere with other FSS users or terrestrial fixed service users," the FCC said. "Further, this report and order adopts licensing requirements and operational requirements for ESAA for both U.S. registered aircraft and for non U.S. registered aircraft operating in U.S. airspace and requires all ESAA licensees to operate consistently with the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act."

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