CBA Defender Says Private Spectrum Deal is Not “Unprecedented”

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Preston Padden, who used to lead lobbying efforts for the C-Band Alliance and is now a consultant, answered critics last week who complained about the proposed sale of C-band spectrum in a private auction. During a House Communications Subcommittee hearing last week and a recent similar hearing in the Senate, detractors said a private deal, rather than a public FCC auction, was unmatched and risky, due to expected litigation over the outcome.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), chairman of the full House Energy and Commerce Committee, called the CBA proposal of a private auction: “unprecedented from the way we’ve instructed the FCC to conduct auctions in the past. 

We can’t afford to give away billions of dollars that could be used for public safety and broadband.”  

In response, Padden tweeted: There are MANY precedents for private sales of spectrum – XO Communications to Verizon; Straight Path to VZ; FiberTower to AT&T; and Cable Companies to VZ, just to name a few examples.” 

Other critics of the CBA plan, including Senate Financial Services Subcommittee Chair John Kennedy (R-LA), have said the FCC could confiscate the satellite companies’ C-band, because they are foreign-owned and were given their FCC licenses for free. 

Padden stated two of the CBA members, Intelsat and SES: “PAID for their C-band spectrum in private market sales approved by the FCC. In 2001, SES paid GE Americom $5 billion. In 2003 and 2006, Intelsat acquired C-band [spectrum] from Loral and PanAmSat for $7.4 billion,” he clarified.

Padden said if the government actually confiscates spectrum, “no one would bid in future FCC auctions.” Kennedy and consumer watchdog groups say a private sale is illegal; they say the C-band auction should be public, transparent and the proceeds should go to the U.S. Treasury rather than the satcos.

November 4, 2019

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