NAB Urges FCC to Get to ‘Right’ Not ‘Highest’ C-Band Number

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As the FCC considers how much of the C-Band spectrum to reallocate to wireless users, broadcasters urge the agency not to make a hasty decision. Satellite companies use C-band, a swath of 500 MHz spectrum, for television and radio program distribution. The Commission “has given every indication that it appreciates the importance” of how best to reallocate some of the spectrum, while “ensuring that the remaining amount can continue to support [broadcasters’] critical content distribution system,” writes NAB Associate General Counsel Patrick McFadden in a blog post.

McFadden points to a consensus regarding partial C-band reallocation, while protecting incumbents, and overseeing a complex reallocation process. “A consortium of satellite companies [the C-Band Alliance] demonstrated they can make 200 MHz of spectrum available in the very near future while continuing to accommodate programming distribution in the remaining 300 MHz,” he writes. “While certain details still must be worked out, including the mechanism for the sale of spectrum to wireless companies and the interference rules to ensure a peaceful coexistence between wireless and satellite operations, a 200/300 split has emerged as a bird in the hand that would allow the FCC to move forward quickly without running the risk of programming disruptions.” 

However “pressure from competing interests” has left the agency reluctant to sign-off on the plan, according to the NAB executive; it’s also left the C-Band Alliance with pressure to free up more than 200 MHz to reallocate to wireless services. “This pressure will lead to bad results for consumers across the country. As they themselves have insisted to the FCC and their customers, there is simply no reasonable way for satellite operators to provide the same level of service to their existing customers if they must immediately surrender more than 200 MHz,” states McFadden.

McFadden cautions: “A relentless insistence on getting to a higher number for the sake of getting to a higher number carries real risk of breaking the content distribution system that viewers and listeners depend on today.” The FCC can move forward now with the original plan to free up 200 MHz of C-band and revisit the issue in the future as technology evolves and alternative distribution mechanisms become more viable.

“But forcing a messy, disruptive and delayed result for multiple industries for the sake of a higher number of megahertz right now seems to benefit no one,” he writes. Broadcasters “urge the Commission not to make ‘more’ the only goal of this proceeding.”  Comments? Email Us.

August 2, 2019     

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