WISPA, NAB, CBA Lobby Regulators on C-Band

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Stakeholders in the FCC’s C-band proceeding are intensifying their lobbying. Big issues the Commission is wrestling with is how much of the band to re-purpose for wireless use and whether to authorize a private or agency auction of licenses to new entrants.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association favors a proposal to allocate 200 MHz of C-band spectrum using a mix of FCC auction for mobile operators; and coordinated sharing between incumbent satellite earth stations and fixed wireless providers.

Over the August recess, WISPA organized its members to tell Congress that the fixed wireless industry wants shared access to the C-band. In a letter to lawmakers and the FCC signed by 233 WISP industry companies and individuals, they urged regulators to make C-band spectrum available for shared use so WISPs can deliver gigabit speed internet to unserved and underserved Americans. “Spectrum enables WISPs to deliver access to far-flung, sparsely populated communities at about 1/7th the cost of doing that with fiber,” they wrote. 

At the same time, incumbent C-band satellite licensees agree they can give up 200 MHz of C-band and still deliver television and radio programming. The C-band Alliance says it’s demonstrated that satcos can accommodate content distribution in the remaining 300 MHz. The NAB supports the CBA proposal and suggests that haggling over how much of the band to re-purpose, to satisfy those who want more of the band freed up for wireless use, won’t help the proceeding.

“Whether one agrees with that or any other amount is not a matter of personal preference, but a technical, scientific one. There’s either enough capacity to distribute content using a certain amount of spectrum or there’s not,” wrote NAB Associate General Counsel Patrick McFadden recently in a blog post. “If there isn’t, forcing satellite operators to come up with 300 MHz for wireless companies has serious, real-life consequences, such as forcing content onto less reliable distribution platforms (e.g., fiber).” That could lead to service disruptions or outages as fiber is a less reliable alternative in case of outages, broadcasters contend.

The NAB credits the FCC as taking a pragmatic and cautious approach so far in this proceeding and says the agency shows every indication that it will continue to do so.

September 12, 2019

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