Eutelsat Rocks C-Band Alliance With Withdrawal

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Eutelsat withdrew from the C-Band Alliance (CBA) on Tuesday, saying it wants to “take a direct active part in the discussions on C-band clearing and repurposing.” Eutelsat was a CBA member since the beginning, along with Intelsat, SES and Telesat.

In response to the withdrawal, the CBA said its members remain “committed to delivering its expeditious, market-based proposal and the departure of Eutelsat does not impact the CBA’s ability to do so.” 

The three remaining CBA members say they represent approximately 95 percent of the affected revenues of the U.S. C-band market. They’re in agreement to engage with the FCC on the proposal to rapidly clear C-band spectrum to support the deployment of 5G services.

The Eutelsat withdrawal move comes as stakeholders remain split on how much of the C-band can be repurposed for wireless use and how to accomplish it without negatively impacting incumbent users, the satellite companies that deliver television and radio programming. The CBA proposed clearing 200 MHz of the 500 MHz located 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz and selling the spectrum to wireless providers in a private auction. 

CBA EVP Advocacy & Government Affairs Peter Pitsch told Congress in July if the Commission okayed the plan, CBA members would make a significant voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury, Inside Towers reported. However SpaceNews reported last month that Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer said during an earnings call that the “voluntary contribution” was not part of the CBA’s scope and its members were not in agreement on it.

The FCC is sorting through other C-band reallocation plans, too, most notably from T-Mobile and a plan from the Competitive Carriers Association, Charter and ACA Connect, Inside Towers reported. The others favor an FCC auction and re-purposing closer to 300 MHz of spectrum. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, meanwhile, has said he hopes to have some agency progress on the issue this fall.

September 4, 2019

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