ACA: Cable Should Get Cut of Any C-Band Marketplace Payout

Calling the potential risk to consumers far from an academic exercise, the American Cable Association has cautioned the FCC to balance the needs of new C-band users and incumbents by taking a Hippocratic Oath-like "first do no harm" approach.

In comments to the FCC on the commission's proposal to share the C-band satellite spectrum, which cable ops use to get their programming networks from distributors to their systems, with terrestrial 5G wireless service, ACA signaled a C-Band Alliance proposal was not that balanced approach.

Related: Cable Ops Tell FCC That C-Band Plan Needs More Planning

The C-Band Alliance, comprising fixed satellite service operators, says its market-based proposal to negotiate secondary-market agreements for up to 200 MHz of C-band spectrum is the win-win solution the FCC is looking for.

ACA recommends that the FCC clear no more than 50 MHz for 5G, which it says could probably me made up by satellite operators' pledge to launch a few more satellites. ACA says trying to clear 200 MHz would take 15 additional satellites to compensate for.

The FCC is contemplating allowing wireless carriers to compensate incumbent satellite operators for giving up spectrum, as the C-Band Alliance has proposed, but ACA says cable ops should get a piece of that pie if that is the way the commission goes.

"[T]he FCC should fully take into account the rights not only of satellite operators but also of C-Band users, including cable operators," it told the commission. "The FCC could achieve this goal by using an auction or other mechanism that compensates not only satellite operators but also users as well as the public....If the FCC were to allow a satellite operator coalition to negotiate divestitures of C-Band rights, as proposed by the C-Band alliance, C-Band users should still have a seat at the negotiating table, and divestiture should be contingent on an agreement reached both by operators and users on the terms for relinquishing their use of a portion of the spectrum," it said.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.