Intelsat qualifies for $3.7bn for C-band clearing
August 15, 2023
By Chris Forrester
Intelsat is due to receive a windfall of $3.7 billion (€3.38bn) later this year after successfully clearing the C-band spectrum ahead of schedule for terrestrial 5G telecommunications companies in the US.
The company launched its seventh and final C-band replacement satellite (Galaxy 37/Horizons-4) on August 3rd and obtained FCC certification for moving its broadcast customers into a narrower portion of the spectrum.
The FCC set a deadline of December 2025 for satellite operators including SES, Eutelsat, Telesat and Claro to clear this spectrum, but offered incentive payments of nearly $10 billion if they could make the frequencies available earlier, by December 5th 2023. Intelsat has already received around $1.2 billion so far for meeting interim clearing milestones in 2021, and will receive a total of close to $5 billion in incentive clearing payments.
The FCC raised a total of $81 billion in an auction of the satellite spectrum. Verizon, for example, spent $45 billion to secure the largest portion of the frequencies on offer in the auction.
Intelsat has said that half of the $3.7 billion C-band windfall will be used to pay down a portion of the company’s $7 billion debt.
SES is suing Intelsat for a larger portion of the FCC’s overall payment. SES is arguing that it is entitled to 50 per cent of the FCC’s combined payment to Intelsat and SES. The claim has been ruled acceptable by a US Appeal Court and could amount to around $400 million.