Tim Farrar of TFA, a leading satellite industry consultant, has shared an idea to help solve the C-Band Alliance’s (CBA) process to free up 200 MHz of their C-band satellite capacity over the USA to help 5G adoption.
Farrar said it was “truly ironic” to see objections to the CBA’s scheme from Google linked with some cable operators given that Google usually is on the side of freeing up spectrum, and encouraging broadband competition.
Farrar’s suggestion is to allow the CBA to sell off 180 MHz of satellite spectrum and keep the proceeds (in order to fund the 6-8 new satellites that would be needed and pay for alterations to thousands of cable Earth stations), “while the FCC conducted an overlay auction of terrestrial mobile licences in the rest of the band (excluding a modest guard-band of perhaps 50-100MHz below 4200MHz to preserve key services and protect aeronautical users in the 4200-4400MHz band)”.
He suggests that all parties would thus be compensated: “The satellite operators would receive proceeds from selling 180MHz of spectrum (potentially worth $11 billion – $18 billion at $0.20-$0.30/MHzPOP), the US Treasury would receive proceeds from the overlay auction (potentially worth $4 billion – $5 billion from selling 270MHz at $0.05/MHzPOP) and the Earth station operators would receive compensation if they decided to migrate to fibre or relocate their Earth stations to clear the overlay spectrum.”
Farrar says: “Will the CTIA and the wireless operators now be prepared to push for such a compromise? Will the satellite operators accept that they can’t have it all? And will the cable operators and Google accept that blocking the reallocation of C-band spectrum to terrestrial is an unacceptable outcome? That depends on whether the FCC is willing to rule that none of the parties should get all of what they want, but everyone can get something.”