Intelsat, SES file spectrum transition plans

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Both Intelsat and FCC filed their C-band accelerated spectrum transition plans with the FCC on June 19th. The schemes outline how their clients will be moved in order to free up spectrum for the FCC’s 5G adoption.

The plans show how some 3,500 cable head-ends and 13,500 Earth stations will have 60,000 blocking filters changed to limit interference and how client receive dishes will be repointed.

Intelsat and SES also detail where their new satellites will be launched and positioned and the timelines involved. Intelsat will need a total of seven satellites, while SES will build six new satellites.

Intelsat says its costs will be around $1.6 – $1.7 billion. SES says its costs will be similar at about $1.67 billion.

The implications of the moves are considerable. SES says that it has to repurpose 114 services on its US domestic satellites  (SES-1, SES-2, SES-3, SES-11, AMC-11, AMC-3) and 82 services on its international satellites (SES-4, SES-6, SES-14, NSS-9, NSS-10).

SES, for example, explains how for some clients it will switch from today’s MPEG-2 compression to MPEG-4 “which will support same or better service in much less bandwidth.  With technology upgrades, [this particular] customer’s post-transition needs are reduced to only 7½ transponders”.

SES will start installation of filters in August this year.

Both Intelsat and SES will now start making quarterly reports to the FCC on their progress.


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