Pai supports public auction of C-band spectrum for 5G

Ajit Pai.jpg

Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai (pictured) has publicly backed plans to hold a public auction of C-band spectrum to support the deployment of 5G.

In a series of Twitter posts, Pai stated that he’s identified four things that the FCC must do in order to meet this goal. One, to free up spectrum for 5G; two to do so quickly; three to generate money for the Commission; and four, to ensure the continued use of the C-band (3.7 - 4.2GHz) for services.

I've outlined four principles that the @FCC must advance regarding C-band spectrum: we must (1) free up significant spectrum for #5G, (2) do so quickly, (3) generate revenue for the federal government, and (4) ensure continued delivery of services currently using the C-band. — Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) November 18, 2019

After much deliberation and a thorough review of the extensive record, I've concluded that the best way to advance these principles is through a public auction of 280 megahertz of the C-band conducted by the @FCC's excellent staff. — Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) November 18, 2019

As a result, he says that the best way to do this is with a public auction of 280MHz of the C-band, carried out by the FCC themselves. Pai then followed this up with a series of letters to ‘various elected officials’ outlining his plans.

With a strong track record of successful auctions, I'm confident they'll quickly conduct a public auction that will give everyone a fair chance to compete for this #5G spectrum, while preserving availability of the upper 200 MHz of the band for continued delivery of programming. — Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) November 18, 2019

In the letter he states that:

”C-band spectrum is widely seen as a critical swath of mid-band spectrum that could help drive American leadership in 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity. This spectrum offers both geographic coverage and the capacity to transmit large amounts of data—a combination that is appealing to entrepreneurs and wireless consumers alike.”

Earlier today, the @FCC sent letters to various elected officials outlining my decision in the C-band proceeding. — Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) November 18, 2019

Though no specific date for the auction has been given, it is expected to take place at some point during 2020.

As result of the news, stock in satellite communication provider Intelsat fell by 40% due to the fact that satellite operators use this band mainly for television and radio programming. In addition, SES stocks fell by 17%.

For the last year the C-Band Alliance comprised of Intelsat, SES and Telesat, have been pushing for the FCC to approve a private auction of C-band spectrum in exchange for a billion-dollar contribution to the US treasury and support to create a program for rural 5G networks.

In response to the news the C-band alliance responded in saying:

“The announcement does not address the critical involvement of the incumbent satellite operators in executing the complex task of reconfiguring and transitioning their networks,” the C-Band Alliance said. “Nor does the announcement address the fundamental modification of the rights afforded by the existing FCC licenses held by the CBA members which would be required under a public auction approach. We will continue to work cooperatively with the FCC to develop an effective alternative plan and achieve the best outcome for the American public while protecting the interests of our users and the rights of our companies.”