NAB Points to C-Band Moving Cost Underestimates

Broadcasters have advised the FCC not to finalize its cost catalog for reimbursable C-Band moving expenses until broadcasters have vetted satellite operator transition plans and to be prepared for COVID-19-related boosts in those expenses. 

(Image credit: NAB)

The FCC is freeing up 280 MHz of C-Band spectrum for auction to wireless broadband operators for 5G and moving incumbent users, including broadcast and cable operators, in the process. It is paying those moving expenses out of proceeds from the auction of that 280 MHz. 

The FCC asked for comment on its initial catalog of covered moving costs and the National Association of Broadcasters had plenty to say, including asking the FCC to seek further comment once it revises the catalog to reflect input it is getting now. 

That input includes NAB's argument that the range of costs for integrated receiver/decoders (IRDS)--$5,000-$35,000--should actually be in the millions of dollars, though it said that might be a mistake. 

Then there is the cost range for uplink costs ($275,000-$1.21 million per transponder). NAB said it could be a little north of that upper limit.  

NAB offered up several more examples involving filters and antennas. 

It also said the FCC should allow for costs above those ranges on a case-by-case basis for "'worst case' scenarios for highly unusual situations where higher costs may be justified." 

NAB warned of supply chain disruptions and price increases, plus any changes in trade policy--the President has levied tariffs and threatened future ones. "We understand from members that COVID-19 is already affecting some supply chains, and it is not yet clear whether those challenges will grow," NAB told the FCC, another reason not to set the catalog in stone at the present time. 

NAB also said the FCC needs to clarify that satellite operators won't be the sole arbitrators of what tech upgrades will be needed to relocate existing services. 

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.