CBA rejects Eutelsat FCC suggestions

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The C-Band Alliance (CBA), in what might be its last filing to  the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prior to the Commission’s decision on a planned auction of C-band spectrum owned by CBA members, is strongly arguing that Eutelsat’s scheme for the allocation of any incentive payments from the FCC is “grossly unfair”.

The CBA, while admitting that other satellite operators also provide extremely limited C-band services over the contiguous US, the Commission must allocate these incentive payments fairly among relevant satellite operators serving CONUS [the 48 CONtiguous States and the District of Columbia] customers.

The CBA filing says: “The CBA has developed a fair and non-discriminatory methodology to allocate acceleration payments among satellite operators.  Specifically, the CBA proposes an allocation based on the effort required to clear spectrum, which is very closely tied to usage of C-band downlink over CONUS.  As a proxy or methodology for determining usage, the CBA previously suggested an allocation based on 2017 CONUS downlink revenue, which would lead to a share of 95.94 percent for the members of the CBA.”

The CBA adds: “More recently, the CBA proposed an allocation based on the number of earth station C-band feeds in CONUS. The CBA has collected detailed information on a very large and statistically significant sample of 9,756 FCC-registered earth station sites representing more than 25,000 antennas. Based on this detailed information, the CBA estimates that approximately 99% of earth station C-band feeds in CONUS point to a CBA-member satellite; approximately 1% point to a Eutelsat satellite; and between 0% and 0.1% point to a [small satellite operator].”

“Other allocation methodologies proposed in the record are grossly unfair.  For example, in its latest filing Eutelsat suggests assigning equal value to all satellite capacity that touches CONUS.   Eutelsat’s methodology would result in extraordinary compensation for the satellite companies that have the least amount of work to do and anemic compensation for the satellite companies that will be required to do the most work to accelerate the transition. Fundamentally, the premium methodology Eutelsat proposes rewards operators for behavior that does not support the overall mission of the proceeding—making C-Band spectrum available for 5G use— because 5G cannot be deployed until ALL operators have cleared the band.  Thus, incentives for accelerated clearing should be properly weighted to satellite operators doing the vast majority of the work to clear spectrum and protect their existing customers.”

The CBA wraps up its message to the FCC by cautioning that a negative decision by the FCC against the CBA’s proposals “virtually ensures that litigation will ensue”.

The FCC is expected to reveal its thinking on Thursday, February 6th.

Intelsat’s shares rose 23 per cent in trading February 4th while SES saw a 6.1 percent improvement in share price value.


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