FCC gets blunt messages from CBA

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received a 28-page filing on July 18th from the C-Band Association (CBA) in regard to the Association’s re-working of C-band frequencies over the US to help 5G take-up.

The document was accompanied by a strongly worded statement on responses to the FCC’s invitation for public comments. The CBA reminded any objectors to its scheme that “Under the Communications Act, satellite operators have a fundamental and enforceable right to service transmissions free from interference. Accordingly, the FCC is obliged to protect the service transmissions of CBA members and lacks power to unilaterally authorise new terrestrial mobile operations in the band, which would cause harmful interference to incumbent services. Any effort by the FCC to reclaim C-band spectrum and reallocate it without the consent of the CBA would run headlong into statutory and constitutional limits on the FCC’s authority.”

“Moreover, the CBA is the only stakeholder with the expertise, will, time, and resources to invest in a successful spectrum transition. The cooperation of the CBA is essential to opening the C-band to terrestrial mobile operations.”

The formal FCC filing was always polite, but its messages were to the point. “Several commenters regurgitate old arguments that are outside the scope of the Public Notice…. All parties agree that the interference caused by authorising terrestrial mobile operations in the C-band would wipe out FSS service transmissions to Continental US.  Because such interference would render meaningless the essential purpose of the licences and market access authorisations held by the members of the C-Band Alliance, the FCC’s authorisation of that interference in any significant portion of the band would constitute an unlawful fundamental change.”

The filing strongly argues in favour of the CBA’s 200 MHz release plan and says forcing the CBA to extend that amount would be a massive change and cannot be considered a “mere modification” as some have suggested.

One of the strongest phrases concerns T-Mobile which had – in essence – said the FCC should appropriate the complete 500 Mhz of C-band. “That argument, which T-Mobile has made before, fares no better for its repetition here,” states the CBA. “The FCC may not authorise new terrestrial mobile operations in any significant portion of the C-band without first obtaining the cooperation of the members of the C-Band Alliance.”

Most observers now believe that the FCC will make a decision by late-September.


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