FCC to submit CBA thinking on 5G to Congress

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Investment bank Exane/BNPP says that the FCC has to submit a report to the US Congress on its thinking in regard to the proposed reversioning of some 180 MHz of satellite C-band by September 23rd.

Exane says that “While this report may not contain the full details of (or be published before) its Final Order, it is likely to be indicative of the FCC’s current thinking.”

There are already unconfirmed reports that the FCC is contemplating making a decision to order 300 MHz be allocated – and auctioned – to help the roll-out of 5G technology over the US.

The C-Band Alliance (CBA), now reduced in membership by the exit by Eutelsat, is happy to free up 180 MHz of spectrum (plus a 20 MHz ‘guard’ band) over the next 18-36 months. The CBA has indicated – but not confirmed – that over time it could release other capacity.

The devil is now in the detail. And the key questions include the timing of the 180 MHz spectrum release; how it is to be sold/auctioned; whether there will be a special (voluntary or mandated) windfall tax levied on an auction; if 300 MHz is to be included in the FCC’s thinking, what the timetable might be.

As to Eutelsat’s decision to quit the CBA, Exane, in a note to clients, says: “At this stage we see this announcement as a negotiation tactic in Eutelsat’s effort to increase its share of proceeds from the CBA. We also believe it may reflect management belief that it may maximise its economic interest by talking directly to the FCC given its expectations of the regulatory framework the FCC might ultimately adopt.”


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