On Friday, leading satellite companies SES S.A. and Intelsat S.A. announced alignment on a proposal to the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which seeks to protect the wide array of established satellite services in the 3700-4200 MHz C-band downlink spectrum while opening a specified portion of that spectrum for terrestrial mobile use.
The joint proposal, which was developed in response to the unique U.S. telecommunications environment, aims to protect the quality and reliability of the extensive services provided by satellite operators in C-band to U.S. broadcasters, media and data companies. The proposal ensures the continued seamless distribution of video and audio programming to more than 100 million U.S. households, and the reliable provision of critical data connectivity in rural areas and emergency situations, as well as services delivered to the U.S. government.
The proposal, which builds on an innovative model first put forward to the FCC by Intelsat and Intel Corporation in October 2017, sets a commercial and technical framework that would enable wireless operators to quickly access approximately 100 MHz of nationwide C-band downlink spectrum in the U.S., speeding the deployment of next generation 5G services.
The proposal specifies the creation of a consortium, which would be open to all C-band operators providing service to all or a portion of the lower 48 United States pursuant to FCC-issued licenses or grants of market access. The consortium would oversee the governance of the initiative, define and implement the methodology for spectrum clearance, and serve as the sole interface for market-based transactions with parties interested in deploying terrestrial mobile services in specific portions of the C-band. SES and Intelsat have begun briefing the FCC on this proposal.
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 services.”
Peter Pitsch, Associate General Counsel, Intel, said, “Intel's goal remains to facilitate timely access to high quality terrestrial 5G services. We welcome the announcement of the alignment of Intelsat and SES on significant details of the proposal, and plan to continue to support this market-based approach, which we believe paves the way for the accelerated deployment of 5G in the U.S.”
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.”