09 February 2018
| James Pearce
Intelsat and SES have launched a joint proposal to the Federal Communications Commission over the use of C-band downlink spectrum by satellite and terrestrial providers in the US.
The two satellite providers aid
they are seeking to protect the wide array of satellite
services in the 3700-4200MHz C-band of spectrum while that is
opened up for some terrestrial mobile use.
The proposal calls for the creation of a consortium which
would be open to all satellite firms operating in the C-band
frequencies in any part of the lower 48 United States. This
would oversee governance of the initiative, define and
implement a methodology for spectrum clearance, and serve as
the interface for market-based transactions with mobile
operators looking to use C-band spectrum.
SES is joining Intelsat's effort, which is also backed by
Intel, to serve U.S. customers using a particular part of
C-band airwaves while reserving some of that spectrum for other
wireless operators. The proposal comes as US operators look for
additional sources of spectrum to support 5G rollout plans.
The deal includes a commercial and technical framework that
will enable mobile operators to quickly access about 100 MHz of
nationwide C-band downlink spectrum in the US, and so speed up
the deployment of 5G.
The plan could face opposition from mobile operators in the
US, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal, as some
are seeking the FCC to push satellite operators off the band
Operators such as AT&T and Verizon have already revealed
launch 5G services by the end of 2018, but the availability
of spectrum is seen as a major challenge in some markets.
The proposal would ensure the continued distribution of
video and audio programming to more than 100 million U.S.
households, the satellite firms claimed, and "the reliable
provision of critical data connectivity in rural areas and
emergency situations, as well as services delivered to the U.S.
Karim Michel Sabbagh, president and CEO of SES, said, "The
C-band is and remains a critical component of the U.S. network
architecture. Space and ground segment operators have invested
billions of dollars in U.S. C-band networks and connectivity
and generate important value out of it. It is therefore our
duty and mission to protect the C-band in the U.S. from any
form of disruption and preserve its use.
"The C-band satellite consortium is to be set up to ensure
that the expansion of the C-band ecosystem in the U.S. will
protect the interests of hundreds of established services and
millions of American end-users, while at the same time paving
the way for the creation of next-generation 5G terrestrial
The outcome to the proposal will depend on a decision by the
FCC over spectrum allocation, which is expected to begin over
the next few months. Should the US regulator back the plan,
Intelsat and SES said they could begin moving operations to a
narrower band within around two years.
Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler said: "Our priority continues
to be creating a framework that provides certainty and protects
the quality and reliability of the services we provide to our
media, network services and government customers. Our proposed
market-based solution provides a speedy resolution to the U.S.
objective of accelerating deployment of 5G services.
"With Intelsat and SES now in agreement on major tenets of
the framework and with the support of Intel, we are confident
in our ability to implement this proposal quickly and
efficiently, ultimately to the benefit of American consumers
and the U.S. economy."