Filters May Help Shield Broadcasters From 5G Signals on C-band


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UPDATE New filters recently demonstrated by Intelsat and SES may hold the key to protecting incumbent broadcasters using C-band from future 5G use, according to one company that designs and installs satellite uplink and downlink networks for broadcasters.  

When Inside Towers spoke with Karen and Mark Johnson, co-founders of LinkUp Communications, earlier this year about the Commission’s proposal to carve out some C-band spectrum for mobile wireless use, they were alarmed. They were concerned 5G’s high-powered omni-directional signals would overpower existing C-band signals, making the delivery of broadcast content impossible. At the time, there didn’t seem to be filters on the market or in development, to offset a dominant 5G signal, they said.

Monday, Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat announced they created a consortium, the C-Band Alliance, to facilitate clearing a portion of the band, while protecting incumbents. Asked about the plan, Karen Johnson told Inside Towers, “The consortium has spent the last several months working with filter manufacturers to develop a new generation of both filters and LNB’s that seem to effectively block 5G’s heavy emissions.” LNB stands for Low Noise Block downconverter. It’s a receiving device mounted on the antenna. It receives a signal from the satellite, amplifies it, changes the signal to a lower frequency band and sends the signal down the cable to the indoor receiver. 

The entrepreneurs saw a live demonstration recently at Intelsat’s Ellenwood, GA facility, of both filters and LNB’s that “manage the impact of 5G interference,” said Karen Johnson. The filters and LNBs need to be field-tested, but the demonstrations left the Johnsons feeling more hopeful.

“It’s important to note the success of these next-generation LNBs and filters depends upon the FCC accepting the Intelsat/SES proposal currently before them. Unlike other proposals being considered by the Commission, Mark and I believe that this proposal is the only one that clearly states, step-by-step, plans that preserve and protect C-band, by managing the impact 5G will have on the frequency,” Karen Johnson told Inside Towers.

They continue to urge broadcasters to register their satellite downlink earth stations with the FCC by the October 17 deadline, to be considered in the future of the band.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

October 3, 2018