Skip to main content

Padden: Private C-Band Deals Would Hardly Be Unprecedented

Preston Padden, advisor to the C-Band Alliance, says the suggestion by some that a private market sale of C-Band spectrum licensed by the FCC breaks with precedent, and maybe even with the law, are way off base. 

The alliance comprises satellite carriers willing to give up some of their licensed spectrum under the right conditions, though how much and under what conditions are the sticky wickets. 

That defense of a private sale came in a series of tweets Thursday (Oct. 31) in the wake of recent Hill hearings on the issue:


The senator referenced is Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), the colorful chairman of the Senate Financial Services Subcommittee, who has criticized the FCC for even considering a private sale, arguing that such a sale may be illegal and in any event would be handing money to foreign companies that should go to the treasury. 

At a House hearing this week, opponents of the alliance suggested such a private sale was unprecedented, and Kennedy hammered FCC Chairman Ajit Pai over the issue at a hearing last week and has been very vocal elsewhere about money going to broadband deployment rather than satellite carriers. In fact, he has said that a private sale "stinks;" and if there were such a sale the American people were going to get "screwed, blued and tattooed."

The issue is whether an FCC auction of C-Band (midband) satellite spectrum for terrestrial 5G or a private market sale between the satellite spectrum licenseholders and the carriers who want it would be the fastest and fairest way to get some of that spectrum to market and advance the nation's interest in winning the race to next-gen wireless. 

Padden has previous experience with spectrum repurposing, having headed a group of independent TV stations willing to give up spectrum for wireless in the FCC broadcast incentive auction. 

The decision will not ultimately be Kennedy's or Congress' but the FCC's. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said he has yet to make up his mind on the complicated issue, but signaled he hopes to vote on a decision in the coming weeks.