CBA Suggests “Acceleration Payments” to Incentivize Quick C-Band Clearing

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently announced the FCC will conduct a public auction for 280 MHz of C-band spectrum in 2020. The C-Band Alliance (CBA), if fairly incentivized, is uniquely positioned to provide that speed, note members Intelsat, SES and Telesat. In a filing, the CBA said the Commission has the authority to require winning C-band bidders to pay for an accelerated clearing of the spectrum as a condition of their auction participation and as a license requirement.

The satellite companies say there’s consensus in the C-band proceeding that incumbent satellite operators should be compensated beyond the cost to clear spectrum. “Such ‘acceleration payments’ must provide incumbents with fair incentives to take the business risks, divert corporate resources, and make the substantial new capital investments that will be required to efficiently and expeditiously clear the spectrum,” they tell the agency.  

CBA argues that a “mandatory accelerated clearing fee” can free up spectrum in 18 to 36 months, “significantly faster than the customary FCC 10-year relocation period.” The mandatory fee approach would also remove the specter of protracted litigation holding up the repurposing.

“Given the economic value, strategic importance, and asymmetrical cost of speed, it is clearly in the national interest” for the CBA to receive fair and appropriate financial incentives tied directly to its unique ability to clear C-band spectrum quickly, members say.  The satellite companies emphasize that a quick C-band transition led by the alliance will generate more than $500 billion in economic growth, three million new jobs, $275 billion in private sector investment and protect critical U.S. national security interests.

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