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C-Band Alliance Wants to Get Paid

Another week, another spectrum pitch related to winning the race to 5G.

The latest comes from satellite companies fighting to the last ditch to get paid for more than the moving expenses of clearing off part of the C-band.

Networks use the C-band to deliver programming feeds via satellite to cable systems and TV and radio stations.

The C-Band Alliance, representing foreign companies providing those satellite programming services, first wanted the spectrum to be repurposed in marketplace negotiations with wireless companies. When that looked like it might not happen, they offered to provide spectrum for an interoperable 5G network as part of that plan. When that didn’t fly and FCC chairman Ajit Pai signaled there would be an auction, they suggested that would be an illegal taking of their spectrum and threatened to sue.

Now, with the auction appearing to be all but a done deal, the alliance is saying the FCC should make paying them for the spectrum above and beyond moving expenses a quid pro quo for participating in any auction.

The Alliance said the FCC should require bidders to pay for “accelerated clearing” if they want to bid on the spectrum. It argued that satellite operators are “uniquely positioned” — for a price — to provide the speed of repurposing for 5G to help the U.S. win the race to next-gen wireless broadband, a priority for the Trump administration.

The mandatory fee approach would also remove the specter of protracted litigation holding up the repurposing, they suggested, and added: “Failure to involve the CBA in the transition of the C-band would be legally perilous. Unilateral authorization of new terrestrial mobile operations in any significant portion of the C-band would constitute an unlawful basic and fundamental change to the authorizations held by the members of the CBA.”