CBA: “Incentivise us, and we will be speedy”

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The C-Band Alliance (CBA, comprising Intelsat, SES and Telesat) filed a Fact Sheet on January 14th that – in essence – urges the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move more quickly in the “monumental task of transitioning C-band spectrum from satellite transmissions to 5G mobile”.

The Fact Sheet pulls no punches in its message to the FCC. It states:

The speed the CBA can provide in accelerating the transition of a portion of the C-band to 5G equates to more than $600 billion in consumer surplus—in addition to stronger economic growth, more jobs, and increased private sector investment—compared to any transition attempted without CBA participation.

– Foregoing speed and its tremendous economic and societal benefits would represent irreversible error. Each year of delay is value lost forever—here, about $50 billion or more per year in consumer surplus.

– China and other countries have already reallocated, assigned, and deployed mid-band spectrum. Having lost first-mover advantage to China in the race to 5G, the United States now faces a perilous threat to its economic and security interests.

– Conducting a successful public auction for a portion of the C-band in 2020 and clearing it quickly for nationwide 5G deployment and operation is critical to re-establishing US 5G leadership.

The CBA expresses its willingness to get to work (“ready, willing and able”) in clearing the C-band spectrum, but also warns the FCC that to leave the CBA out of the equation “would be legally perilous”.

The CBA reminds the FCC that Intelsat and SES must make multi-billion-dollar investments to manufacture and launch eight new satellites and accelerate procurement of a ninth satellite to ensure enough on-orbit capacity exists for current customers to continue distributing content or operating their networks within the context of existing contracts.

The Alliance also has to ask more than 60 percent of their customers to move from their existing transponder(s) to a new one, either on the same satellite or a different one. Each move must then be supported at all relevant receive ground stations, impacting anywhere from a handful to thousands of antennas.

The CBA concludes: “A swift C-band transition led by the C-Band Alliance will catalyse more than $500 billion in economic growth, 3 million new jobs, $275 billion in private sector investment and protect critical US national security interests. With fair and proper incentives, the C-Band Alliance and its member companies remain enthusiastically prepared and singularly well-positioned to expedite the transition of 280 MHz of C-band spectrum to 5G and protect incumbent services.”  


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