Satellite majors form US consortium

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Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat have created the C-band Alliance (CBA), a formal consortium to work to clear the USA’s mid-band satellite spectrum for use by the nation’s 5G operators.

In a joint statement, the four – which between them control 100 per cent of C-band spectrum in use over the US – say the CBA will enable a breakthrough market-based approach to managing and funding spectrum clearing in a way that protects incumbent users and their content distribution and data networks in the US from potential interference.

The drive to clear the spectrum would release significant – and hugely valuable – bandwidth, and the CBA expects to earn billion of dollars when they sell the bandwidth, subject to FCC approval.

“The CBA is designed to act as a facilitator as described in a recent US FCC proceeding featuring the companies’ market-based proposal to clear a portion of C-band spectrum in the United States. The formation of the CBA is a significant achievement and demonstrates the industry alignment necessary to make this mid-band spectrum available quickly, thus supporting the US objective of winning the race to introduce terrestrial 5G services,” said the statement.

“The market-based proposal was developed in response to a proceeding initiated by the FCC in August 2017, which led to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that was formally approved by the FCC on July 12, 2018 and published in the Federal Register of August 30, 2018. The proposal reflects the unique U.S. telecommunications environment and aims to protect the quality and reliability of the extensive services provided by satellite operators in the C-band spectrum to U.S. broadcasters, media, and data companies. The proposal establishes a commercial and technical framework that would enable terrestrial mobile operators to quickly access spectrum in a portion of the 3,700 to 4,200 MHz frequency band in the U.S., speeding the deployment of next-generation 5G services.”

The proposal specifies the use of a consortium to undertake the technical and commercial implementation of the spectrum clearing process. This process is necessary to repurpose the C-band spectrum for use in a 5G environment. The CBA will be led, effective immediately, by Bill Tolpegin, currently CEO of OTA Broadcasting, who will serve as CEO of CBA. Media sector veteran Preston Padden will serve as Head of Advocacy and Government Relations.

“A significant milestone in the progression of the proposal, the establishment of the CBA signifies that the satellite operators delivering the vast majority of satellite C-band services in the U.S. have agreed upon the key technical and commercial steps necessary to enable commercial implementation of the spectrum clearing process. The CBA also ensures that customer services are protected from potential interference as new wireless services are introduced into the cleared portion of the spectrum.”


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