SES accelerates C-band clearing over US
May 26, 2020
By Chris Forrester
Satellite operator SES is clearing a portion of its C-band spectrum in an “accelerated” manner in accordance with the FCC’s timeline and Order published on April 23rd. SES will file the election later today (May 26th) – ahead of the key May 29th FCC deadline.
“Accelerated clearing, including the migration of existing customers, is an important and resource intensive process for the current C-band users. The SES Board of Directors has approved an investment envelope of $1.6 billion which includes the procurement and launch of new satellites and other equipment and services – expenses that are reimbursable through the Clearinghouse process. SES intends to place the vast majority of this investment with US suppliers,” said an SES statement.
SES added: “In line with SES’s firm commitment to maintaining investment grade status, the company has secured deferred payment terms with the vendors taking part in the satellite programs associated with the accelerated clearing, ahead of reimbursement by the Clearinghouse. SES intends to meet the deadlines envisaged in the FCC Order, which entitles SES to receive up to $3.97 billion in accelerated relocation payments.”
However, SES says it is being cautious in the overall clearing plan. “While SES is firmly supportive of accelerated clearing per the FCC Order, the company opposes the potential sunsetting of its 300 MHz C-band rights by December 2025 in the unlikely event that accelerated clearing does not proceed as outlined in the Order. As a strictly precautionary measure, SES intends to file today a petition for review with the reviewing court to preserve its rights should the accelerated clearing option no longer be available.”
From the outset of this proceeding, SES says it has supported accelerated clearing of a portion of the C-band spectrum, as well as the Commission’s objective of quickly driving 5G leadership with the use of this spectrum while also protecting the spectrum’s current users.
“Under the Order, the accelerated clearing is contingent on elections to clear having been made by eligible satellite operators representing at least 80 per cent of accelerated relocation payments. SES’s decision to elect is a critical component in achieving this,” adds SES.
The FCC needs to know by May 29th that its overall scheme is also formally supported by Intelsat, Telesat and Eutelsat.
While not confirmed it is known that Maxar Technologies has received a “multi-satellite” order for the fast-track construction of satellites.