FCC Rejects ACAC Request to Add IRDs to C-Band Cost Catalog

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The FCC has approved the final cost catalog for C-Band transition expenses, saying ACA Connects (ACAC), which represents small and midsized cable/broadband providers,  had failed to make the case for overturning a Wireless Bureau decision establishing the final cost catalog.

"We find that the Final Cost Catalog Public Notice was consistent with the directives and policy goals of the 3.7 GHz [C-Band] Report and Order and implementing rules, was compliant with the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act and the Commission’s ex parte rules, and was based on ample evidence that supports its factual findings," the FCC said in a decision issued Thursday (Nov. 19).

Related: Court Won't Block FCC C-Band Payment Deadline

The FCC is paying cable operators and other earth station operators to move off the lower portion of the band so it can auction it for 5G starting next month, giving them the option of itemizing expenses or a lump sum.

In a move that ACAC had signaled would be challenged (which it did in the courts as well as at the FCC), the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau in July released the final cost catalog for C-Band relocation expenses and lump sum elections and it did not include compensating cable operators for integrated receiver/decoders (IRDS), as ACA Connects and other cable operators had pushed for.  

Including the IRD costs would make it easier for cable ops to move to fiber delivery, but the FCC said the lump sum was meant to approximate the cost of moving earth stations, not moving to a new distribution technology.

The FCC concluded that the costs of integrated IRDS should be attributed to space station operators, not earth station operators and that the lumps sum payment process was "procedurally sound."

ACAC had also argued that the FCC should not have finalized the lump sum payments before it finalized the plans for transitioning incumbent C-Band users, including cable and broadcasters, as part of the repack. But the FCC said the claim that was a rush to judgment were unsupported. It pointed out the payment plan came out after initial transition plans were filed and that, in any event, "Nothing in the 3.7 GHz Report and Order required the Bureau to wait to announce lump sum amounts until after Transition Plans were finalized; indeed nothing in the 3.7 GHz Report and Order even required the Bureau to seek comment on the lump sum payments before announcing its final determination."

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.