C-Band Alliance Proposes More Spectrum With New Carrier Backers

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The C-Band Alliance, now comprised of Intelsat, SES and Telesat, has revised its proposal for repurposing a portion of the band to carve out spectrum for wireless use. In a new filing with the Commission, the consortium says by employing a combination of efficient transmission technologies, it can now clear 300 MHz of the spectrum for wireless use. The CBA also now has more support from wireless carriers for its plan.

Its original proposal was to clear 200 MHz of the band. The CBA told the FCC that 300 MHz includes a 20 MHz guard band to protect existing satellite services from 5G interference. The 300 MHz number is key as wireless stakeholders have said that’s how much of the C-band spectrum they need to deploy 5G. The 300 MHz is also 60 percent of the total of 500 MHz allocated to satellite operations today.  

The CBA says it collaborated with U.S. broadcasters and programmers that serve nearly 120 million American homes via the C-band. This work included analyzing the potential use by some customers of technologies such as advanced modulation, single format transport and advanced video compression, including High Efficiency Video Coding. “Each of these technologies improves the efficiency of satellite video delivery, allowing the same video content to be transmitted over less spectrum,” the group told the agency.  

Speaking on behalf of the CBA, Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler said throughout the two-year process, the group sought to work collaboratively, be responsive to the goals of policymakers, and protect customers’ transmissions. “Over this time, compression technology has continued to commercialize. We are confident that we can deliver a solution that not only maximizes the clearing of mid-band spectrum to enable 5G in the U.S., but also fully funds a spectrally-efficient, next-generation compression infrastructure for programming distribution in the U.S.”

To clear spectrum quickly, the CBA proposes the first “tranche” of spectrum to be cleared within 18 months of an FCC order in 46 top metros is now increased to 120 MHz, including the guard band. The second tranche of the remaining 280 MHz of spectrum would be made available within 36 months from a CBA-led auction.

Verizon, AT&T, Bluegrass Cellular, Pine Belt Wireless and U.S. Cellular now support the CBA proposal. AT&T and Verizon previously indicated their support and signed onto a CBA filing Monday detailing guidance for conducting the auction. T-Mobile opposes the plan, calling for a public auction.

Whether the C-band auction is public or private continues to be a huge concern in Congress; lawmakers on the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing Tuesday to delve into the issue.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee two weeks ago he’s still mulling over the options for the band, and hopes the agency will release a C-band item this fall. Last week at MWC, he stuck to that timeline, Inside Towers reported.

October 30, 2019

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