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FCC Reaches $100,000 Settlement With Harris For Small Satellite Uplink Transmissions On Wrong Frequency


December 20, 2019

The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau today announced a settlement with L3Harris Technologies, concluding an investigation into the company’s transmission of uplink data to one of its small satellites on a radio frequency not authorized for that use.  The company has agreed to pay $100,000 and abide by a compliance plan going forward.

Harris was authorized to deploy and operate a briefcase-sized 6U cubesat called HSAT-1.  The company was authorized to send transmissions from an earth station to its satellite using uplink frequency 2096.5 MHz with a 1.25 MHz bandwidth (2095.875 – 2097.125 MHz).  However, uplink communications starting on November 29, 2018 took place just below those authorized frequencies, on 2095.375 – 2095.875 MHz.  The FCC’s investigation found that the downlink communications—from the satellite to the earth station—were done within the authorized frequencies.

Harris disclosed this unauthorized operation to the FCC yet continued to transmit on those unauthorized frequencies following that disclosure.  After thirteen days and 324 transmissions, Harris ceased transmitting on the unauthorized frequencies.  It appears that the transmissions did not cause any harmful interference.  Nonetheless, this constitutes a serious violation of FCC rules, resulting in this settlement.

 

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