Advanced Television

Intelsat: C-band transition update

April 1, 2022

Intelsat has updated the FCC with its final report on its C-band transition. One of the 601-page document’s major elements its listing each of its clients and their Earth stations and which of them elected to take cash from Intelsat for their local filter work instead of allowing Intelsat to undertake the tasks.

“Undertaking the clearing of C-band spectrum is a monumental technical, operational and commercial task layered with highly interdependent activities,” stated Michelle Bryan, Intelsat’s Secretary EVP/General Counsel.

The document was issued by Intelsat Licence LLC which stated that the construction of 7 new satellites in order to “effectuate” spectrum clearing was well underway with all contracts being finalised. The cost for the C-band payloads on the 7 new satellites needed for the transition is estimated to be $790 million (or $113 million per satellite). The total cost of Intelsat’s C-band replacement satellite portion of the Transition Plan, including launch, insurance, and programme management, is estimated to be $1.18 billion,

Thousands of Intelsat customers have had individual requirements identified.

“To achieve the timeframes specified in the Report and Order, Intelsat must create a ‘non-commercial’ balance of satellite capacity, compression gains, migration activities and ‘same or better services’ to clear the 300 MHz required. The accelerated deadlines create the immediate need to “spread” programming in the upper 200 MHz across all current cable-/broadcast-penetrated satellites, rather than pursuing the previous densification strategy of fewer orbital locations utilizing all 500 MHz. Spreading the content requires the launch of an increased number of partial replacement satellites, as compared to Intelsat’s pre-C-band proceeding plan that would have required the launch of fewer, more densified satellites,” says the document.

“The Intelsat satellite replacement plan is focused on the ten station-kept Galaxy satellites that contain C-band payloads in the North American arc. The C-band payloads on these ten Galaxy satellites currently utilise 500 MHz of C-band spectrum configured as 24 x 36 MHz transponders, with twelve transponders in each linear polarisation (horizontal and vertical). These C-band payloads are used to distribute video, radio and data services to thousands of receive sites across North America and the Caribbean. The ten C-band payloads are broadly separated into two categories or applications, with the payloads not generally being interchangeable between the two applications,” the document adds.

“Given the added complexity at these earth stations, Intelsat and SES have agreed to coordinate some of the commonly required activities. Both operators will take individual responsibility for their antenna seeding plans, for their customer compression upgrades and for any other customer specific work required at an earth station. After the customer migrations are completed, Intelsat and SES have agreed to coordinate filter installation for incumbent earth stations located at cable headends and any other incumbent earth station sites that have antennas accessing both Intelsat and SES satellites. Such coordination will minimize the burden on the earth station technical staff and will reduce the risk of issues occurring during the filter installation process,” says Intelsat.

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