Advanced Television

Intelsat fights back; Market likes C-band plan

October 9, 2017

All last week there was something of a ‘tug of war’ between Intelsat and other major industry players regarding the Intelsat/Intel proposal to see some Intelsat C-band frequencies leased to cellular operators and the access used to spur the adoption and availability of 5G services over North America.

SES, for example, was extremely cautious on the scheme while ABS and AsiaSat were near-dismissive.  The market, however, in the form of share-price value seems to love the concept and Intelsat’s share price last week rose to near-spectacular levels, at least in terms of the past few year’s slump in value.  At one point on October 5th its share price hit $6.35 and a doubling in value for the more typical $3-mark of the past few months.

October 6th it reached $6.75, and more than suggesting that some investors see growing revenues from well-pocketed US telcos wanting a slice of Intelsat’s spectrum.

The rise was helped by a detailed explanation from Intelsat as to its overall intentions, saying: “With 5G services expected to usher in an era with billions of connected devices, the FCC, the Administration and wireless network providers have taken an increasing interest in using C-band for 5G mobile services. Yet, having held rights for spectrum for more than 40 years and having invested billions of dollars under the current regulatory framework, Intelsat understands perfectly well the challenges behind this. C-band today is used to beam the television channels enjoyed by hundreds of millions of Americans. It also provides telecommunications infrastructure and supports government data networks. If not handled carefully, spectrum sharing could cause interference for millions.”

Intelsat’s statement continues: “This is why we opted for a creative and proactive solution to the C-band joint-use dilemma. We partnered with Intel to develop a market-based solution that accommodates the interests of the mobile operators, satellite operators, and our media and data customers.  Under the proposed framework, a portion of our spectrum will be cleared to allow joint-use of the spectrum. This market-based solution enables us to respond US consumers’ growing appetite for bandwidth by allowing accelerated access to spectrum for the mobile industry, while ensuring that satellite services can be delivered with operational and regulatory certainty now and in the future. It’s a solution that benefits everyone, from the satellite industry and mobile operators to US companies and consumers.”

Intelsat stresses: “We fully support C-band, now and for the long term and we expect C-band to remain a vibrant satellite spectrum for years to come. One thing is clear: we are stewards of this band.  We cannot compromise when it comes to protecting the quality and reliability of our services to customers in this band.”

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