SES to clear C-Band spectrum in line with FCC objectives

SES to clear C-Band spectrum in line with FCC objectives

26 May 2020 | Natalie Bannerman

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SES has confirmed its intention to clear a portion of its C-band spectrum in the US, in line with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) order published in April.

The accelerated clearing of the spectrum including the migration of existing customers, is an important and resource-intensive process for the current C-band users. 

SES’ board of directors has approved investment of $1.6 billion, which includes the procurement and launch of new satellites and other equipment and services – expenses that are repaid through the program Clearinghouse.

SES says that it intends to place the vast majority of this investment with US suppliers.

In addition, the company has arranged deferred payment terms with the vendors taking part in the satellite programs associated with the accelerated clearing.

SES intends to meet the deadlines envisaged in the FCC order, which entitles SES to receive up to $3.97 billion in accelerated relocation payments.

The company has supported the FCC’s plan to clear C-band in order to drive up 5G leadership in the US, while also protecting the spectrum’s current users.

The accelerated clearing is based on operators and spectrum holders electing to clear the band, representing at least 80% of accelerated relocation payments.

Despite SES’ support of the FCC order, the company opposes the potential sunsetting of its 300MHz C-band rights by December 2025 in the unlikely event that accelerated clearing does not proceed as outlined in the order.

The company says intends on filing a petition for review with the reviewing court to preserve its rights should the accelerated clearing option no longer be available.

Earlier this year, Intelsat responded to comments by FCC chairman Ajit Pai about C-band spectrum, saying “we note with appreciation the hard work of all stakeholders to get to this juncture, and the work to come leading up to the Commission’s vote on February 28, 2020”.