SES launches 1st of new C-band fleet
June 30, 2022
By Chris Forrester
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully placed SES-22 into orbit on June 29th. The launch means that SES has made its first key step on re-equipping its C-band fleet over North America. SES has a further five C-band satellites to place into orbit.
Built by Thales Alenia Space, the first of SES’s C-band satellites dedicated to freeing up the lower 300 MHz of C-band spectrum will operate in the 135 degrees West orbital slot. The satellite will deliver cable TV and radio to millions of American homes and provide other critical data transmission services, with satellite operations is expected to start by early August this year.
The launch of SES-22 is part of a broader FCC scheme to clear a portion of C-band spectrum to enable wireless operators to deploy 5G services across the contiguous US (CONUS). In response to a mandate from the FCC, satellite operators, including SES and Intelsat, are required to transition their existing transmission from the lower 300 MHz to the upper 200 MHz of C-band spectrum to make room for 5G services.
SES will launch five more C-band satellites: SES-18, SES-19, SES-20, SES-21 and SES-22 in 2022.
“We are thrilled with the successful launch of SES-22, thanks to our partners at Thales Alenia Space and SpaceX,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES. “The launch of SES-22, together with other upcoming C-band satellite launches scheduled this year, will enable us to continue providing the high-quality services that our customers have been accustomed to over the last several decades, while freeing up spectrum that will enable the US to rapidly unlock the promise of 5G.”
SES (and the other C-band operators including Intelsat, Telesat and Eutelsat) are in line for FCC total ‘incentive’ payments of almost $10 billion as a result of the operators realigning C-band spectrum over the US. SES itself will receive $3.97 billion as its part of the FCC payments, although has a legal action running against Intelsat for a larger portion of the payments.
The six satellites are funded not by SES but by the sale by the FCC of overlay licences at the FCC-organised auction in December 2020.