FCC indicates support for SES/Intelsat C-band plan

The Federal Communications Commission’s chairman, Ajit Pai, speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, said the FCC was working on plans on the next steps needed to make the 3.7 – 4.2 GHz (C-band) available for commercial terrestrial use in the coming months.

The positive news helped propel shares in Intelsat, which first proposed the use of satellite-based C-band for 5G’s roll-out, to rise by 28 per cent. Intel and satellite operator SES are also endorsing the C-band 5G scheme.

Pai admitted that the first step would be for Congress to act to spur the roll out of 5G.  Pai told the Barcelona audience: “I’m pleased that Congress is making bipartisan progress on this issue and am hopeful that we’ll be able to kick off a major spectrum auction in November.”

“Despite tremendous American success in 4G, we aspire to lead the world in 5G. Make no mistake about it: I want the United States to be the best country for innovating and investing in 5G networks. I want American entrepreneurs to push the boundaries of the possible and American consumers to benefit from next-generation technologies,” he said.

“So, I’m pleased to announce today that in the coming months, I intend to propose the next steps needed to make the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band available for commercial terrestrial use. Also, Sprint announced earlier this month that it intends to deploy 5G on a nationwide basis next year using its 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings.”

“On mid-band spectrum, we’ve adopted new sharing tools in the 3.5 GHz band to make 150 MHz of spectrum available for mobile broadband. Shortly after becoming Chairman, I asked Commissioner O’Rielly, who is also here in Barcelona, to lead a review of our rules for that band. We want to make sure those rules maximise interest and investment. This spectrum will be available for all purposes including 5G, and we’ll let the market decide the most efficient use. We’re also looking closely at the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band. This is a large chunk of spectrum that holds much potential for wireless service.”

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