SES rethink on C-band use?

Intelsat wants to modify how its C-band frequencies are used over the US. It has in mind using bandwidth over metropolitan areas for 5G activity.  Intelsat (and Intel) has submitted proposals to the FCC.

SES, which also has potentially extremely valuable C-band frequencies over the US (because of its acquisition of the ‘Americom’ fleet of satellites) was initially downbeat on the Intelsat scheme. SES said in October – in effect – ‘not so fast’. “All plans to change the use of C-band have far reaching consequences on hundreds of established services and millions of end users in the US,” said a formal statement from SES.

“We have invested billions of dollars into C-band space capacity over decades, and our customers have invested hundreds of millions in ground infrastructure and earth stations on top. Even if we are open to use parts of the spectrum differently, any plan to change this highly efficient ecosystem and let terrestrial wireless systems enter risks to cause massive disruptions and substantial cost and therefore needs the most careful analysis.”

It seems SES has now down that analysis, looked at its own collapsed share price, and said – perhaps – there is a case. SES, in a statement, now says that SES is open to exploring any approach to a joint use of C-band only if its meets two essential criteria: “It must create appropriate financial incentives to justify the extremely high cost of such an approach, and it must ensure that we can continue to deliver services to our customers without any disruption.”

SES, in its submission November 15th to the FCC, adds that any scheme should not utilise the entire 500 MHz of C-band spectrum already allocated to satellite usage. SES, in its FCC submission, said: “In order to maintain service to customers in such a scenario, SES would need to deploy more satellites with C-band capacity, at a cost ranging from $150 million to $250 million in capital expenditure per satellite.” SES added that it would also have to invest in a necessary reconfiguration of the associated ground network that will require further significant costs.

The news helped propel SES’ share price up by 43 Eurocents (3.42 per cent) on November 16th. Intelsat’s stock price rose 5.79 per cent to $4.20.

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