O’Rielly: Broadcasters, Other Incumbents Need Protection in C-Band


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FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly calls C-band spectrum “ripe” for reallocation. He told attendees at the 7th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, its “rare” when current licensees are willing to part with spectrum that “is effectively underutilized.”    

While the Commission will consider all approaches proposed in its July Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the final mechanism must ensure reallocation would happen quickly, not five or 10 years from now, he said. The agency would like to free up “at least 200 to 300 megahertz,” said O’Rielly.

Broadcasters use C-band for satellite program distribution. They are adamant their use must be protected from interference from 5G use. O’Rielly agrees, saying broadcasters as well as cable operators who contract with satellite companies, must be protected and have a means to deliver their programming, “whether on the remaining C-band uplink” or by “other means.”

O’Rielly told Inside Towers, in an interview afterwards, he was referring to, “any incumbents, we can’t let them go dark,” he said. It’s not known now, how much of the band would be reallocated for 5G, however program distribution can be accomplished using “other satellites,” and potentially through fiber, he said. “A lot of broadcast stations can be hooked up through fiber and many already are on fiber as a back-up,” O’Rielly told Inside Towers. It may be too, there would be enough spectrum left to “satisfy all the needs, so we’re trying to work through those things.”

That’s part of the job of the new C-band alliance announced this week, determining “how to ensure incumbents are in a good place,” he said.   

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

October 4, 2018