Congresswoman Offers C-Band Compromise

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Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, released a discussion draft of a compromise bill to repurpose C-band spectrum. The “WIN 5G Act” proposes a consensus-based, compromise approach to rapidly and equitably reallocate spectrum between the frequencies of 3.7 GHz-4.2 GHz, commonly referred to as the “C-band.” It also incorporates a framework to reallocate spectrum between 3.45 GHz-3.55 GHz for commercial wireless use, provides research and development resources for commercializing additional spectrum, and creates and funds an all-new Rural Broadband Deployment Fund.

Matsui says the measure will, “ensure that spectrum is reallocated rapidly, that the maximum amount of C-band spectrum is made available for wireless use, and that consumers and C-band distribution are protected throughout the transition.” She believes the compromise is necessary to clear any legal challenges that would arise by adopting any existing proposal. 

Specifically, the WIN 5G Act requires the FCC to designate C-band satellite operators to act as a transition facilitator and craft a spectrum transition plan. The plan will include how much spectrum will be made available, together with determinations that: 1) end users will continue to receive comparable quality of service after repurposing for terrestrial mobile use; and 2) that the amount of spectrum proposed is the maximum amount that can be made available. The transition plan will also include technical, frequency migration, and end-user protection plans and will be submitted to the FCC within six months. The FCC will then have 90 days to review the plan to ensure it is adequate.

Then, the FCC would, within six months, auction the spectrum, allowing the transition facilitator to recover an escalating amount of the proceeds from the auction based on how much spectrum is cleared for mobile wireless use. It also creates an opportunity for the transition facilitator to receive an additional incentive payment if they submit a sufficient transition plan on the first instance and begin to procure new satellites necessary for C-band distribution capacity not more than 30 days after the plan is found to be sufficient by the FCC.

July 2, 2019

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