It was always expected that there could be extra payments to the C-band satellite operators once the FCC-organised auction had shown the strength of demand for spectrum. The four key players (Intelsat, SES, Telesat and Eutelsat) are already in line to share around $10 billion in FCC-authorised “incentives” for clearing their C-band satellite spectrum.
With the FCC sitting on more than $80 billion in initial commitments from US cellular telcos, the road is now clearer for successful bidders to potentially make unilateral deals with SES and/or Intelsat for fast-track access to some of their target 5G hot-spots.
Bernard Borghei, co-founder and EVP/Operations at Florida-based Vertical Bridge which owns and manages towers and wireless infrastructure across the US, believes extra side deals are possible.
“It’s likely that we will see additional payments to the satellite operators, similar to what T-Mobile did in the 600Mhz auction [in 2017], but not as much as in other auctions. The C-Band auction drew in a lot more money than anyone expected, which means that aside from the already agreed upon amount for the clearance of the spectrum, the carriers may not have huge amounts of CapEx left to pay additional incentives to satellite companies. Where we do see incentives will be on a case-by-case basis and likely in the most populated regions vs. carriers making broad plays to clear spectrum,” stated Borghei.