While the FCC could wave its wand and turn all C-band downlinks into just so much scrap metal, optimism runs high that the CBA’s proposal for reapportionment of the 500 MHz spectrum and band sharing will be the outcome—if 5G does have to be accommodated. However, that approach involves the addition of an LNB filter, and likely will require retuning receivers and moving dishes to different satellites.
As if the last “spectrum reallocation” and subsequent repack hasn’t provided enough drama, there’s another move afoot to further trim broadcasters’ operational resources. This one hasn’t received the notice that the big “reverse auction” commanded, but it has the potential to send TV, radio, and cable system operators scrambling, should the FCC (and wireless providers) have their way.
NAB’s Patrick McFadden: “The conventional wisdom in the communications arena is that the United States is engaged in a race to be the first nation to deploy the next generation of wireless technology: 5G. But while many insist on the importance of winning the “Race to 5G,” we somehow can’t quite get out of the starting blocks.”
As promised at a recent hearing, Rep. Doris Matsui, co-chair of the Congressional Spectrum Caucus, has released a discussion draft of a C-Band repurposing compromise bill, the Wireless Investment Now in 5G Act, that would have the FCC auctioning some or all of the (3700-4200 MHz) midband spectrum in its effort to free up more airwaves for next-gen wireless broadband.
As owners of earth stations, broadcasters may be able to cut themselves in for a portion of the billions that satellite operators hope to get from the sale of some of their C-band spectrum to 5G wireless carriers. But I’d rather see the taxpayers get the excess proceeds.
NAB has called on the FCC to recognize the important role C-band plays in content delivery for radio and television stations, MVPDs and OTT operators, to be judicious in the way it makes decisions about reallocating part of the band for wireless use and not to take steps that will degrade C-band satellite service by allowing shared use in the non-reallocated part of the band.
Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat have formed the C-band Alliance to figure out how they can clear some of their satellite spectrum for resale to wireless carriers without disrupting service to current users, which include TV networks. Bill Tolpegin and Preston Padden, speculators in the FCC’s incentive auction, are heading the alliance.
The FCC has issued a reminder to all operators “of fixed-satellite service (FSS) earth stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band that were constructed and operational as of April 19, 2018, that the filing window to license or register such earth stations closes on Oct. 17, 2018.” This frequency band is commonly referred to as the C-Band, and many of the FSS earth stations are satellite dishes that receive programming used by both radio and TV stations.
The FCC on Thursday unanimously voted to find ways to open up the C-band spectrum (3.7-4.2 Ghz) for terrestrial wireless use, either all of the 500 Mhz or some portion of it, and through either an incentive or capacity auctions, a market mechanism where incumbents voluntarily strike deals to reduce their footprint, or some other means.