Last week, the FCC said that the proposal from Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Intel for a restructuring of their C-band capacity over the US can proceed to the next stage. But reading the small print in the form of comments from the four Commissioners, who voted 4-0 in favour of the scheme, throws up some cautionary remarks.
The approval – at least to the next stage – put billions of dollars (and Euros) of extra value on the share prices of Intelsat and SES, who between them control some 90 per cent of C-band spectrum over the US.
Top of the list were comments from FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. She was enthusiastic about the proposals overall, but stated bluntly that the FCC needed to understand what the incumbent providers stand to reap from a secondary market sale of the [freed up] spectrum. “We need a framework to ensure that this approach truly serves the public interest,” she argued.
Commissioner Rosenworcel added that the scarcity of this mid-band spectrum could create opportunities to price the resource above what a truly competitive market would support, and an unfair auction of the bandwidth result.