C-Band Alliance Provides FCC More Info on Band-Clearing Plan

The C-Band Alliance continues to press its case at the FCC for a market-based solution to freeing up more spectrum for 5G, telling the FCC it can re-purpose the band in three years and arguing that is the fastest route to the 5G uses the FCC is promoting.

The alliance, comprising satellite operators who provide services to clients including broadcasters and cable operators, says this week it has given the FCC more details about their plan to transition program networks out of 200 MHz of the 500 MHz of spectrum in the band so that licenses for that 200 MHz can be acquired by wireless operators in market deals.

The 5G-centric FCC is definitely going free up some portion of the C-Band (3.7-4.2 GHz) for next-gen wireless, part of a grand plan to free up as much low-, mid- and high-band spectrum as possible, but sought comment on just how to do that, either through a traditional FCC auction or through marketplace mechanisms like deals between carriers and satellite operators as the alliance is proposing, perhaps even cutting cable operators and broadcasters in for a piece of the proceeds.

The alliance has argued that waiting for the FCC to set up and conclude an auction would take more time than marketplace deals.

Related: Charter Says CBA C-Band Proposal Equals Backroom Deals, Windfall Profits

The new filing includes how the move will impact the cable and broadcast earth stations they use to receive their programming networks (cable) and network programming (broadcast) via satellite and the "general order" of the transition, as well as a timeline for making the cleared spectrum available for 5G.

The 200 MHz includes a 20 MHz guard band to provide separation between the wireless operations and the broadcast and cable operations. Both broadcast and cable operators are concerned about potential interference given that what is at stake is hundreds of cable networks and TV station affiliates' broadcast network programming.

Related: Intel Plugs C-Band Alliance Proposal

The plan is to transition the spectrum within three years.

"Among other pledges, the alliance is committing to: "Coordinating with every C-band user, covering all costs of transitioning audio and video services to a reduced spectrum footprint."

The C-Band Alliance is proposing to cover the moving expenses of their satellite service customers, including broadcasters and cable operators, with 120% of the costs of repacking them onto new satellites and/or frequencies placed in an escrow account to insure there is enough.

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.