The C-Band Alliance (of Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat) sent an email to the FCC on January 2nd which strongly rebutted allegations from US cable operators Comcast, Charter Communications and others that its plan to repurpose C-band spectrum over the US through a ‘market based approach’ was “improper and/or a departure from FCC precedent”.
The CBA supplied the FCC with what it described as a “long line” of established precedents many of which actually benefitted Comcast’s and Charter’s predecessors in private sector benefits.
“These private secondary market mechanisms, approved by the Commission, are designed to direct the spectrum to its highest and best use as fast as possible and without the risk of litigation. In each case, the Commission could have made different decisions but ultimately concluded that the public interest was best served by allowing the private market to function. Here, the CBA proposal seeks a much narrower expansion of its members’ rights in order to convey clearing rights through secondary market transactions, enabling the fastest possible repurposing of the spectrum for terrestrial 5G use.”
The CBA’s list includes FCC permissions which:
· in 2012 granted DISH approval to acquire control of the satellite licences for TerreStar-1 and DBSD G1.
· In 2016, when the FCC created the new upper microwave flexible use service (UMFUS) allocation for licences in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands, the FCC extended those mobile rights to the incumbents – even while acknowledging the potential windfall those licensees would receive.
· In 2018, the FCC granted Verizon’s application to acquire 28 GHz, 29 GHz, 31 GHz, and 39 GHz licences from Straight Path – specifically recognising that the grant would result in the expeditious use of the spectrum for 5G.
· In 2017, the Commission granted Verizon’s application to acquire 28 and 39 GHz licences from XO Holdings, again recognising the public benefit of expediting access to 5G.
· In 2018, AT&T acquired 24 GHz and 39 GHz licences from FiberTower.
· In 2004, the FCC granted flexible use rights to the incumbents and new users of the Educational Broadband Service and the Broadband Radio Service; in turn, these licensees were entitled to use this spectrum for mobile broadband (often with Sprint).
· In 2012 the FCC approved the private sale of AWS spectrum from a consortium of cable companies called Spectrum Co (63 per cent owned by Comcast) to Verizon. In approving this multi-billion transaction, the FCC found no violation of its anti-trafficking rules.