Intelsat C-band proposal gets cautious welcome from FCC

The joint Intelsat-Intel proposal to free up C-band spectrum in certain congested urban areas in the US has received a warm response from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). FCC commissioner Michel O’Rielly told delegates to the Americas Spectrum Management Conference that the idea was very beneficial and would be examined closely.

While not wholly endorsing the concept his comments were seen as being favourably inclined because it represented two important players in the market coming together with a solution that could help the roll out of 5G services over the US.

However, the deal is far from done with most other satellite players objecting strongly to C-band spectrum being used for 5G.

O’Rielly addressed this very point, telling delegates that he was not interested in disrupting their operations.

SES, like Intelsat is a major operator of C-band capacity over the US, was extremely cautious on the scheme while ABS and AsiaSat were near-dismissive.  SES, in its statement last week, said: “The C-band in the US has been and remains critical to country-wide content distribution and data services for decades. Hundreds of customers and millions of consumers rely on satellite C-band, in cable and live broadcasting, in rural broadband and emergency, maritime, government and military connectivity. SES and others have invested billions of dollars in C-band satellite capacity, and our customers have expended tens of millions for the complementary ground equipment. Both have formed a very efficient and powerful ecosystem. We have to preserve the value of this system, protect the use of satellite C-band and prevent disruption of any kind. As a leading satellite operator we see it as our duty to monitor closely any initiative to change the current framework and the impact this would have on us and on the ecosystem. We are therefore analyzing carefully proposals from the Intel/ Intelsat consortium and others and need to understand the details, implications and consequences of these plans. Our overriding concern is to be able to continue to fulfill and protect our own and our customers’ current and future needs.”

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