More Input Needed For FCC’s Decision on C-Band

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The FCC is asking for more public input on how to open up C-band for wireless use. The request means it’s increasingly unlikely the Commission will make a decision in the first half of 2020 as satellite operators previously expected. The agency said the comments it’s received since July 2018, when it voted to open up the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band for 5G has generated more questions about how the spectrum would be repurposed.

The FCC has not decided on using a “market-based” approach like the plan proposed by the C-Band Alliance, a spectrum auction (favored by T-Mobile, Google and others), or a combination of the two. The agency also has yet to decide how much of the 500 megahertz of downlink spectrum to repurpose, though recent comments by various Commissioners suggest it would be at least 200 MHz, Inside Towers reported.

Now, the Commission seeks public input on how enforceable satellite operators’ interference protection rights are against terrestrial signals with “co-primary” access. The FCC is also asking if those rights should be linked to C-band operators that have customers in the U.S. that need protection from signal interference.

The four members of the C-Band Alliance — Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat — said it will continue to discuss the transition with the FCC. “We look forward to responding to the Commission’s inquiries and working cooperatively to build consensus from the many stakeholders involved,” the C-Band Alliance said in a statement to SpaceNews. “We are convinced — and have received significant support — that our proposal is the best suited way to achieve both protection of the incumbent services to millions of U.S. television households and an efficient clearing of C-band spectrum to enable an accelerated deployment of 5G in the U.S.”

The FCC is also asking how enforceable interference protection rights are for network operators with receive-only satellite dishes. T-Mobile suggested to the FCC that new terrestrial C-band signals would function undisturbed by satellite signals, but would cause interference to satellite dishes on the ground. FCC wants more assessment of T-Mobile’s conclusion and what impact that should have on the agency’s work. Send comments to docket 18-122; They’re due 30 days from Federal Register publication.

May 8, 2019

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