mitters is critical for the present and future viability of the RAS, but it is much more difficult than ground-to-ground coordination, as is discussed in the next two paragraphs. For example, the coordination process between the RAS and Iridium, as discussed in §3.5, shows that coordination is not always successful at reducing RFI to needed levels.

As an example of successful collaboration, passive users of the spectrum and the Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS) were able to find a successful cooperative agreement in the 608-614 MHz in which both services still operate. In 1999, the U.S. Committee on Radio Frequencies (CORF) supported the FCC’s proposal for RAS and WMTS to share this band as long as the proposal was enacted in its entirety to include “service rules on eligibility, frequency coordination with RAS facilities, the necessity to protect RAS observations from interference, and technical standards (including field strength, separation distance from the radio observatory, and out-of-band emission limitations).”40 The proposal was enacted as supported by CORF, and the agreement between the services is seen by both parties as an excellent pairing of interests and one that has benefited them both substantially.

Similarly, a successful arrangement was made between the Arecibo Observatory and a nearby military radar station. The Puerto Rico Air National Guard operates a frequency-hopping radar with channels between 1220 and 1400 MHz at Punta Salinas, about 75 km from the telescope. Arecibo Observatory staff and the authorities at Punta Salinas devised a coexistence arrangement that involves blanking the transmitter when it is aimed at the observatory.

This is not meant to say that cooperative mitigation can replace the need for radio quiet areas or for restricted, passive-only bands. Indeed, since the development of passive techniques often occurs on unscheduled bases and in arbitrary regions, the need for emission restrictions within the small exclusively allocated spectrum and specific geographical zones remains. Many airborne and ground-based EESS experiments require continuous operation within a given zone and would not be able to yield effectively to active systems over time intervals exceeding even a few tens of percents. Such activity requires the use of restricted spectrum. Similarly, for the RAS, transmissions in geographical areas around radio telescopes must be avoided, and in order to maintain existing capabilities it should still be required that the RAS be given a chance to comment on all license applications for fixed and mobile transmitters within prescribed geographical zones around radio telescopes. However (and for example), in a shared time-of-day cooperative scheme, commercial traffic on certain shared bands of RAS frequencies might be


National Academy of Sciences, “Comments on Docket No. ET 99-255, Amendment of Parts 2 and 95 of the Commission’s Rules to Create a Wireless Medical Telemetry Service,” filed with the Federal Communications Commission on September 30, 1999. Available at; accessed January 14, 2010.

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