FCC on CBA: “Working on deliberative process”

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Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the FCC, along with two of his key Commissioners, met with the FCC oversight committee on June 12th at the US Senate on Capitol Hill, and were specifically questioned on the C-Band Alliance’s scheme to reassign 180 MHz of spectrum for 5G over the US.

What followed were very timely comments, in particular from Chairman Pai, who would make the final decision on the timing of the FCC order. “We intend to take action to make available more spectrum in the 2.5 GHz and 3.7-4.2 GHz bands in the coming months,” he stated.

Investment analysts at Exane/BNPP said this suggested that a final decision would happen in Q4/2019.

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said: “Highest on our priority list must be the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band, or the C-band. The Commission continues a deliberative process to consider the market-based approach, along with other options presented in the record. One of my foremost concerns is to ensure that the mechanism selected allows for the quickest reallocation of the band. I believe that the majority of relevant stakeholders are diligently working through how best to accommodate the current incumbents and provide a sufficiently transparent process. Further, I remain hopeful that the satellite incumbents recognize the great need for such frequencies and are willing to part with closer to 300 or more megahertz, assuming the requisite technology can accommodate this amount.”

This strong mention that the FCC wants 300 MHz of spectrum freed up, which is 100 MHz more than the satellite operators want to release at the moment. If the C-Band Alliance can be persuaded to release an extra 100 MHz – perhaps in 3 years or so time – then this would make the likely auction of that spectrum even more valuable.

Sami Kassab, at Exane/BNPP said: “These statements underpin our timing expectations of a Q4/19 final order and views that satellite operators might end up selling more than the 180 Mhz currently offered.”


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