The C-Band Alliance (CBA), which supports the reallocation of some of its members’ frequencies over the US, says it is “extraordinarily pleased with the level of support shown for the Market-Based Approach in the opening round of comments”.
The Alliance, made up of Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat, in a statement December 7th, says its proposed Market-Based Approach is favoured by commenters spanning a diverse array of industries and interests, including the commercial aviation industry, C-band satellite operators, Internet service providers, broadcasters, nonpartisan think tanks, content distributors, video programmers and programming networks, data and telecommunications equipment providers, satellite transmission companies, industry associations, wireless carriers, and non-profit associations and represents the fastest way to get the restructuring under way.
The CBA adds that its financial approach will produce the right balance of spectrum cleared for use by 5G operators while at the same time keeping back sufficient spectrum for its satellite services over the US.
Moreover, only the CBA can re-sell their spectrum, and the Alliance argues that the FCC itself cannot conduct an auction (which is the suggestion from T-Mobile). Another grumble from some objectors is that US taxpayers would miss out on their share of the likely receipts from a sale/auction.
‘Not so’, implies the CBA and it states that taxpayers will benefit from the rapid and efficient repurposing of C-band spectrum and the economic growth that it will generate. One independent study says that the CBA’s approach to the sale of spectrum “will create billions of dollars in total public benefit compared to other alternatives”.
Steve Collar, President/CEO of SES, and Stephen Spengler, CEO of Intelsat, say: “We are extremely pleased to see that our Market-Based Approach has received such strong and cross-industry support. The FCC record shows that our approach is the optimal way to achieve two goals: protect the all-important incumbent C-band services in the US and clear spectrum in a time frame that allows the US to achieve leadership in 5G deployments and innovation. The record acknowledges that our market-based approach is the only one proposed which aligns all relevant partners and presents an executable roadmap to clear mid-band spectrum safely and efficiently. The task we face – to configure the entire C-band ecosystem to safely accommodate other applications in the C-band – is extremely complex and costly. Our proposal is built on our voluntary and proactive initiative, in response to the FCC, and is driven by dynamic market forces and strong economic incentives. Our Market-Based Approach streamlines the process and would provide a superior delivery timeline of 18 to 36 months as compared to an administrative process which could take as long as a decade to complete. We are therefore certain that our approach will position the US to unleash the technological and industrial potential of 5G, speeding the social and economic benefits for the US and its citizens.”
SES says: “C-band in the US has been and remains critical to nationwide content distribution and data services. Hundreds of customers and millions of consumers rely on C-band satellites for delivery of cable and broadcast programming, rural broadband, and emergency, maritime, government and military connectivity. SES and others have invested billions of dollars in C-band satellite capacity, and our customers rely on thousands of C-band earth stations as complementary ground equipment. Together, these facilities form a very efficient and powerful ecosystem whose reliability and reach are unmatched by any alternative technology. Any plan to change this highly efficient ecosystem and allow terrestrial wireless systems into the band creates risks of massive disruptions and substantial costs, and therefore needs the most careful analysis. Preserving the value of this system and protecting the use of satellite C-band and the industries it supports are crucial elements of any regulatory review involving this spectrum.”
SES adds: “The FCC is looking for spectrum for the roll-out of 5G next generation mobile networks, particularly in the mid-band spectrum range. We are willing to support the 5G deployment and have therefore been open to exploring possible approaches to terrestrial use of C-band if two essential criteria are met: it must ensure that we can continue to deliver services to our customers without disruption and it must create appropriate financial incentives to justify the substantial costs of such an approach. This careful balance can only be achieved if we open an appropriately sized portion of the band for mobile operations.”