Sen. Kennedy: Intelsat Bankruptcy Changes C-Band Compensation Equation

Satellite services provider Intelsat has announced a "financial restructuring to position [it] for long-term success" at what it called a "transformational moment in the history of our company," or, as Intelsat critic Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) put it: "Intelsat’s decision to file for bankruptcy." 

On that news, whichever way one looks at it, Kennedy said the FCC should "withdraw its offer, take control of America’s spectrum and save taxpayers billions of dollars instead of shelling out that money to foreign companies." 

He said the Intelsat filing makes it clear that Intelsat "had no intention of accepting the FCC’s deal." Intelsat in a tweet on the restructuring said its business would continue "without interruption." 


Sen. Kennedy: Make Satellite Operators Buy American

That "offer" was a reference to the FCC's decision to provide billions of dollars in incentives and auction proceeds to Intelsat and other satellite service providers to give up 300 MHz of spectrum (out of a total of 500 MHz) in the C-Band for 5G. 

Kennedy long argued that instead of turning over auction proceeds to international satellite companies, it should go to the Treasury to build out rural broadband, fund public safety communications and more. 

The FCC approved up to $9.7 billion in incentive payments to satellite carriers for exiting the spectrum early, arguing that paying satellite companies was the quickest way to free up the much-needed spectrum. 

Over Kennedy's objections, the FCC voted March 3 to allow 280 MHz of spectrum to be auctioned for 5G (plus 20 MHz for a guard band), and satellite operators and others to be compensated for the move out. 

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.