FCC Issues Public Notice on C-Band Incumbent Earth Station Waiver Requests

On September 16, 2020, the International Bureau and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (collectively “Bureaus”) issued a Public Notice (GN Docket No. 18-122, IB Docket No. 20-205, GN Docket No. 20-305) providing guidance on waiver requirements for incumbent earth station operators in the C-band in response to a September 8, 2020 letter from NCTA and the National Association of Broadcasters.  The Bureaus have determined that a waiver allowing incumbent FSS earth station operators to amend their registrations to include additional, existing co-located antennas for purposes of interference protection in the 4.0-4.2 GHz portion of the band only (not reimbursement for relocation expenses) is appropriate.  Any incumbent earth station operator that wishes to add antennas to any existing registration must request a waiver in accordance with this Public Notice by September 25, 2020 in GN Docket No. 20-305.


In order to expedite processing, the Bureaus require the first page of the waiver to identify that the requested waiver complies with the recommendations within the letter by affirming that it would: (1) involve only antennas located within 150 meters of an incumbent earth station; (2) request a waiver for no more than 25 additional antennas per registrant at any given site; and (3) seek interference protection only and would disavow any claim to reimbursement for the antennas for which a waiver is sought.


The Bureaus have also indicated that any request must: (1) be pleaded with specificity; (2) provide detailed information regarding the individual circumstances of the applicant and the registration information for each new antenna; and (3) otherwise comport with the Commission’s rules governing waiver requests.


Finally, the Bureaus have stated that they will consider the following elements when deciding whether to grant a waiver:

  • Whether the antenna would have been eligible for incumbent protection when the filing window closed on November 7, 2018;
  • Whether the request involves a site or facility with one or more incumbent earth stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band (providing the specific Callsign, SiteID, and AntID of the incumbent earth station(s));
  • How far away the additional antennas are from an incumbent earth station (providing the specific Callsign, SiteID, AntID, and GPS coordinates of each antenna);
  • How many additional antennas per registrant at any given site; and
  • Whether the grant of the waiver would require reimbursement of additional relocation expenses to the applicant.


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