C-Band Pressure Intensifies as Year-End Nears


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Lobbying is intensifying around the FCC’s pending decision to repurpose a portion of the C-band for wireless use. The agenda is set for the agency’s November 22 meeting. So now, speculation is the issue may be on the Commission’s December 12 agenda, given Chairman’s Ajit Pai’s assertions he intends to have something for the agency to vote on yet this year.

Wireless carriers are clamoring for mid-band spectrum, which puts additional pressure on Pai. 

On the Senate floor last week, John Thune (R-SD) said: “If we don’t want China and South Korea to win the race to 5G — and seize the economic benefits 5G will bring — we need to substantially increase the amount of mid-band spectrum available to U.S. companies quickly.”     

Satellite operators Intelsat, SES and Telesat — which comprise the C-Band Alliance —  say a private auction would be the fastest way to repurpose the spectrum. In a revised plan recently submitted to the FCC, the CBA describes how member companies would implement technology upgrades and compression solutions to maximize efficient use of spectrum; repack customer services into higher frequency bands on satellites without service interruption; and launch eight new satellites to maintain sufficient in-orbit capacity.  

The plan also details how members would accomplish the design and installation of approximately 100,000 filters on an estimated 35,000 antennas in the continental United States; and ensure those antennas are tuned and pointed correctly to receive the same content after the clearing is completed. The plan contains detailed commitments from the CBA to cover transition and implementation costs incurred by customers and end users who use the C-band today.  

The CBA conducted several meetings with the White House while lobbying for its proposal. That would blunt efforts to get the issue on President Donald Trump’s agenda by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who prefers an FCC-run spectrum auction. Kennedy’s looking at potentially holding a second hearing on C-band auctions next week, reports Politico.

November 13, 2019

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