CBA Says FCC C-Band Auction Could Mean Delays


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UPDATE The right path forward for the C-band is not a simple choice between a public and private auction,” says C-Band Alliance EVP Advocacy & Government Relations Peter Pitsch. In a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee last week, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Bob Latta (R-OH), Pitsch sought to correct “misstatements” from witnesses during an October 29 subcommittee hearing on the best way to repurpose C-band spectrum for wireless use.

“The optimal choice, instead, balances the competing need for expeditious assignment of C-band spectrum for 5G use with the monumental task of protecting the broadcasting and video distribution industry that delivers service to nearly 120 million American households,” writes Pitsch.  

Members of consumer watchdog groups as well as small satellite companies said during the hearing they prefer an FCC-led auction of C-band spectrum. They doubt the legality of the private auction proposed by the CBA, and said that could result in lawsuits, delaying the repurposing of a portion of the band for wireless use.

Pitsch tells the lawmakers that’s not true. “An FCC-run auction and transition are likely to result in lengthy delays. Several parties, including the CBA, have raised concerns that the FCC lacks the authority to confiscate C-band spectrum without compensating the satellite operators that currently use the spectrum to deliver valuable services throughout the United States,” according to Pitsch.

“Given this legal uncertainty, an FCC auction—which likely could not even be scheduled until mid-2021, at the earliest—is bound to be delayed by protracted litigation, slowing the transition of critical C-band spectrum for 5G operations.” Those risks would be avoided under the CBA proposal, he emphasized.

Further, under the CBA plan, an auction could be scheduled in the first half of 2020. “Time is of the essence,” writes Pitsch, referring to three Chinese telecoms that recently simultaneously announced the rollout of their 5G networks.

November 11, 2019             

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