Intelsat Says It’s Meeting Hurdles to Clear C-Band on Time

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In what sounds like good news for potential wireless bidders in the upcoming C-band auction, one of the satellite companies that needs to move from the lower portion of the C-band to the upper portion says it’s where it needs to be to meet that goal. Intelsat says it’s finalized all of its required contracts with satellite manufacturers and launch-vehicle providers to move forward and meet the accelerated C-band spectrum clearing timelines established by the FCC earlier this year.

Intelsat signed an agreement with U.S.-based Maxar Technologies to build the final satellite required to support its C-band transition and maintain the FCC’s post-transition, “same or better” quality-of-service standard. Earlier this summer, Intelsat announced manufacturing contracts with Maxar and U.S.-based Northrop Grumman for six satellites.  

Intelsat has contracted with SpaceX and Arianespace to launch these satellites on four separate launch vehicles, beginning in 2022. It says the diversity of manufacturers and launch-vehicle providers will lower transition program costs and help Intelsat mitigate potential launch-delay risks that could prevent the company from meeting the FCC’s accelerated clearing deadlines.

“We have made exceptional progress to date in executing our transition plan,” said Intelsat CEO Mike DeMarco. “We’re moving forward at an accelerated pace to clear portions of the C-band spectrum and help cement America’s leadership in 5G.”

“We’re committed to maintaining this momentum, and we look forward to collaborating with our long standing partners, Maxar, Northrop Grumman, SpaceX and Arianespace, on these important contracts to ensure we can continue to provide the high-quality, uninterrupted television, radio and data services that more than 100 million American homes and businesses have come to rely upon,” continued DeMarco.

On August 14, Intelsat filed its final C-band spectrum transition plan with the Commission. The plan details the steps required for Intelsat to reconfigure its satellite and terrestrial infrastructure to enable 5G deployment in C-band.

The company filed for Chapter 11 restructuring in May; it said the restructuring was intended to position the company to participate in clearing C-band spectrum and become eligible to receive $4.87 billion of accelerated relocation payments.

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