Advanced Television

SES vs Intelsat: Appeal hearing March 20

March 16, 2023

The extremely long-running C-band legal action between the world’s two largest satellite operators, SES and Intelsat, is due in court next Monday, March 20th.

SES is arguing that it is entitled to a 50 per cent share of the FCC’s compensation payments for the pair’s certain satellite C-band frequencies which the FCC subsequently auctioned off to telcos for 5G usage. Specifically, SES is arguing for a greater slice of the FCC’s Accelerated Relocation Payments.

If successful with its Appeal, SES would be entitled to some $421 million (€396m) of extra FCC cash, while Intelsat would lose a commensurate amount, although there’s an inevitability that Intelsat would likely appeal any negative verdict.

SES maintains that Intelsat breached a 2017 agreement to split 50/50 any C-Band compensation from the Federal Communications Commission. By accepting some $900 million more than SES, Intelsat illegally broke a historic deal between two ‘arch rivals’ working together to achieve a common goal, SES said.

SES lost that initial action (back in October 2022) but is now appealing that (“disallowed”) ruling at the Eastern Virginia District Appellate Court.

The FCC compensated Intelsat and SES (and to a lesser extent Telesat of Canada and Eutelsat) for their frequencies.

Overall, and including Telesat and Eutelsat, the FCC agreed a $9.7 billion pay-out for the C-band frequencies (and having auctioned the frequencies for more than $80 billion). There is a December 5th, 2023 deadline for the frequencies to be cleared.

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