The FCC held a meeting last week part of the agenda was the planned auction of C-band spectrum over the US and offered up by four satellite operators; Intelsat, SES, Telesat and Eutelsat.
Some of the FCC all-important Commissioners have now been quoted favourably supporting prompt action on getting the auction up and running.
Commissioner Starks, according to Communications Daily, said: “Now that we are focused on a public auction […] for the C band – we’re already behind on that – we need to really get moving as quickly as possible, as quickly as practicable, to make sure that we get that auction rolling.”
Commissioner Rosenworcel expressed similar sentiments, saying: “It’s my hope that both the House and Senate will be able to work on those [auction] issues. The legal underpinning for an auction is tough without legislation. If we want to avoid future lawsuits or further delay, the best-case forward is legislation.”
Moving to the Senate and Senator Kennedy – not exactly sympathetic to satellite’s auction arguments – he also seems to have softened just a little, and now recognises that there will have to be compensation, or a long list of legal challenges.
Analysts at investment bank Exane/BNPP said: “Political discussions are likely to remain the main share price driver of satellites stocks in the near term. Kennedy’s declarations suggests to us he recognises the need to compensate (and more likely to incentivise) satellite operators. We continue to argue that the monetisation of SES C-band spectrum rights are likely to generate €5 per share of value for the company.”
The CBA itself also sees some light at the end of the tunnel. A statement said: “The CBA has consistently supported legislative initiatives that advance the FCC’s efforts to safely clear extremely valuable mid-band spectrum to enable 5G in the US. Today’s committee vote represents a good step in that direction and we thank Senators Wicker and Thune for their vigorous engagement. The fast and safe clearing of a portion of the C-band is essential so the US can maintain its global technology leadership and reduce security and defense concerns with respect to our national telecommunications infrastructure, all while protecting the TV and radio services valued by nearly 120 million American households. We will continue to work with members of Congress and the FCC to reach the best outcome for the United States: a solution that quickly clears badly-needed C-band spectrum for 5G and acknowledges the CBA member companies’ role in the process, their legal rights and their significant investments over decades in the operating C-band ecosystem.”