NextNav petitions FCC for new spectrum band

April 23, 2024  - By
Photo: NextNav

NextNav has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to add a new spectrum solution in the Lower 900 MHz band (902-928 MHz band) to complement and backup GPS. The Lower 900 MHz band plan aims to give access to 15 MHz of low-band spectrum for 5G services.

The company filed a rulemaking petition to the FCC, proposing to rearrange the band to facilitate a terrestrial positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) network and broadband. The petition specifically asks the FCC to reconfigure the band plan and adopt new rules, including enabling a high-quality terrestrial complement and backup to GPS for essential PNT services and providing 15 MHz of low-band spectrum for use by mobile broadband networks.

The proposal, according to the filing, “enables high-quality terrestrial PNT, with the potential for widespread and inexpensive adoption in many use cases because it will use the 5G standard.” Because the company’s NextGen PNT solution uses a small amount of capacity in the 10 MHz downlink, mobile network providers can use most downlink capacity for broadband, “making the spectrum appealing for integration into existing networks and thereby accelerating the availability of terrestrial PNT services.”

According to the filing, “The 15-megahertz band plan is necessary for this broadband deployment, which enables an at-scale PNT network to be deployed efficiently, providing a unique path to resolving the coverage, cost, and user device issues that have prevented broad terrestrial PNT usage to date.”

NextNav recently signed an agreement to acquire spectrum licenses covering an additional 4 MHz in the lower 900 MHz band from Telesaurus Holdings GB and Skybridge Spectrum Foundation. In March 2024, the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda, issued an Order approving the Receiver’s request to sell all of its Lower 900 MHz spectrum holdings to NextNav, allowing the parties to move forward with obtaining FCC approval.

The company plans to partner with mobile network operators or others interested in commercial deployment in the band for 5G and will ensure incumbent operations are protected. According to the company, it has used its existing licenses to develop PNT expertise and products, but, because of a legacy band plan and rules that limit the use of the spectrum for 5G, much of this band is underused.

The NextGen PNT technology and network are designed to use 5G and offer a 3D positioning solution with single-digit accuracy. The positioning solution is available indoors and outdoors and in urban corridors. It also seeks to provide wireless distribution of precise, resilient timing.

The current Lower 900 MHz Band is “not conducive for either terrestrial PNT or mobile broadband,” according to the filing, with shortcomings that include fragmented geographic licensing arrangements, outdated command-and-control requirements and other restrictions. Consolidating the geographically licensed spectrum blocks into a 15MHz nationwide configuration for both PNT and 5G broadband changes. This allows the band to support better use cases and serve as a high-performing complement and backup to GPS.