C-Band restructuring: ‘Encouraging feedback’

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The second quarter of this year should see the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) make its ruling on whether the C-Band Alliance (CBA) of Intelsat and SES can restructure – and sell – 180 MHz of spectrum over the US for 5G take-up.

Much of yesterday’s (February 20th) analyst call with senior staffers from Intelsat was focused on the prospects for a positive outcome. It emerged that the CBA has sent around 400 letters to parties potentially interested in buying its spectrum. Intelsat’s management claims there has been good market interest in the spectrum. The CBA is having ongoing discussions with several of these parties to better understand their needs (band plans, geographic coverage, etc).

There was also encouraging optimism that if the FCC gives approval for the scheme and issues its order to ‘make it so’ then only a US court injunction against the FCC could stop the process.

In Sami Kassab’s view (analyst at Exane/BNPP) “Intelsat indicated that its C-band grooming plans were based on a combination of modulation and compression techniques. In other words, the current plans are not based on state-of-the-art modulation and compression techniques. In our view, this suggests that more spectrum could be freed in the medium to long term as broadcasters embrace DVBS2 and HEVC.”

“Overall, we take this call as supportive of our positive view on the C-band monetisation opportunity,” Kassab added.

Investors seemed to agree, with Intelsat’s share price rising strongly during February 20th, by 11.3 per cent to €24.50 at one point.


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