FCC on Notice to Respond to Cable C-Band Stay Request

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UPDATE A federal appeals court has given the FCC until Friday morning, September 4, to respond to a request by small cable companies asking the court to stay the Commission’s deadline for electing lump sum reimbursement payments for moving to a different portion of the C-band, reports nexttv.com.  

Inside Towers reported last week that the cable group, called ACA Connects, asked for emergency action by the court.

In order to begin auction off the lower portion of the C-band this December, the FCC is requiring current users — satellite operators, broadcasters and cable operators — vacate the lower portion of the band, which is 500 megahertz between 3.7-4.2 GHz. The agency proposed reimbursing incumbents for their move to the upper portion of the band. They can itemize expenses or choose a lump sum. The latter would be much like it was for television broadcasters during the re-pack; incumbents that choose a lump sum would pick items out of a catalog with predetermined reimbursement figures.

The deadline for choosing the lump sum option is September 14. ACA Connects told the agency earlier the lump sum option means closing the door on other reimbursement options so the Commission’s formula must be right.

The reimbursement cost doesn’t include compensating cable operators for integrated receiver/decoders, as the association and other cable operators had pushed for, to make upgrading to fiber delivery easier, according to nexttv.com. “The deficiencies in formulating the lump-sum amount could indefinitely defer fiber-optic deployment that would allow upgrades and expansion of broadband access in areas served by ACA Connects’ members,” it said. 

ACAC wants the lump sum payment deadline stayed while it asks the FCC to reconsider the underlying decision on what to include in the C-band relocation cost catalog.

The NAB, meanwhile, represents broadcasters that operate earth stations to receive satellite programming; broadcasters and satellite operators are also incumbents on the C-band. Broadcasters that chose to upgrade to NextGen transmission capability were not reimbursed for that upgraded equipment in their recent repack; the FCC only reimbursed a station for the gear that was in its air chain before the channel moves. That’s the same reasoning the FCC is using for the C-band reimbursement for cable and other incumbents.   

The NAB told the FCC the cablecos are being greedy and trying to turn the C-band repack into a business opportunity. “While NAB certainly does not object to the determination of the installation amount, it would strain credulity to suggest that ACA’s members are somehow being shortchanged.”

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