C-Band Alliance Gets to Work


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UPDATE What’s next for the C-Band Alliance? Four satellite companies — Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat — have proposed to the FCC that the group work directly with the mobile industry, carving out spectrum for 5G, forgoing a government-run auction.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly told Inside Towers in an interview, he hopes the alliance, “is able to work through any existing problems, or issues and complexities and make this as smooth as possible.” He also hopes the group can “do this in a quick and complete fashion, faster than anything the Commission can contemplate.”

SES SVP Gerry Oberst told Inside Towers: “We are representing to the FCC that we could clear portions of the band in 18 to 36 months from the time the [final] order is out. We have been doing extensive work on testing filters, analyzing power levels and even looking at ordering new satellites.”

SES was part of a demonstration of filters at Intelsat in Georgia, recently. Inside Towers reported the event was witnessed by principals of LinkUp Communications. Oberst said the demonstrations were jointly planned with Intelsat and SES on “suitable channels.” The point was to explain to customers, “what we’re looking at and what kind of protection we’d try to give them under this repacking.”

Oberst said bench tests involved a simulated 5G signal and simulated receivers nearby. A field test means placing a 5G transmitter near a receiver “and seeing what happens,” and making sure the filter block the interfering signal.

The alliance is wrestling with how large of a guard band should be placed between the C-band signal meant for broadcast program distribution and those for mobile use. The alliance originally told the FCC, “if we were to release 100 megahertz of spectrum, we’d look for a 50 MHz guard band,” said Oberst. “We are working very hard to figure out ways to decrease that significantly through filters,” Low Noise Block downconverter replacement, and “analyzing the power levels so we wouldn’t have to have such a large guard band.”

“But there would still need to be one. The signals are immensely powerful compared to the reception” of an earth station “from a signal that’s 22,000 miles in space,” said Oberst.

NAB VP Spectrum Policy Bob Weller said in an interview: “This is a critical band for broadcasters. Our number one concern is that the distribution services that we have over C-band are not disrupted.”  Comments? Email us.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

October 10, 2018