The C-Band Alliance (CBA) today announced that it believes that up to 200 megahertz of C-band spectrum in the 3.7-4.2 gigahertz band could be cleared under a market-based proposal for repurposing some of the band for 5G terrestrial services. The alliance said that includes 180 MHz plus a 20-MHz guard band, saying that the frequencies could be cleared within 18 to 36 months.
Previously, CBA members Intelsat License LLC and SES Americom, Inc., had said that under the plan, about 100 MHz of C-band spectrum could be repurposed, in addition to a 50-MHz guard band, within 18 to 36 months.
Terrestrial wireless entities and even some at the FCC – particularly Commissioner Mike O’Rielly – have said that any market-based plan needs to make available hundreds of megahertz of spectrum for 5G.
“This updated commitment will be reflected in comment filings due October 29 under the FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) proceeding,” the CBA said in a news release. “The proposal increases by 80% the amount of spectrum that could be made available for 5G terrestrial use as compared to the initial proposal made by Intelsat and SES.”
“This announcement allows the CBA and its members to engage in detailed planning of the complicated task of moving customers to different frequency assignments, facilitated through new satellite capacity and innovative technical solutions, implementing new ground infrastructure and modifying the significant existing infrastructure deployed nationwide,” the CBA added.
“The repurposing of up to 200 MHz of C-Band spectrum is contingent upon a number of factors which at this stage cannot be guaranteed and their outcome is uncertain, including the following: (i) a final FCC order that accepts the CBA’s market-based proposal; and (ii) a satisfactory market-based process with potential terrestrial 5G users of the repurposed spectrum,” the CBA said in the news release.
Scott Bergmann, senior vice president-regulatory affairs, welcomed today’s announcement. “We appreciate the C-Band Alliance's recognition that 3.7-4.2 GHz spectrum can be repurposed for flexible terrestrial wireless use. Freeing up mid-band spectrum is critical to winning the global 5G race, and we encourage the FCC to open up the 3.7-4.2 GHz band as quickly as possible,” he said.
In July, the FCC adopted a 3.7-4.2 GHz band NPRM and order that furthers its efforts to free up at least some of the band for terrestrial wireless broadband services (TR Daily, July 12). Commissioners generally spoke favorably of the market-based proposal for providing terrestrial access to part of the band, although they expressed some concerns about the framework.
In his statement on the item, Mr. O’Rielly said the market-based plan “has a much better path than the others” because it can enable spectrum to be made available much more quickly than the traditional means. But he reiterated his view that more than 100 MHz has to be the goal.
“In particular, I have strongly advocated for at least 200 or 300 megahertz, with a serious view to release even more,” he said. He also said that “any reallocation must fully protect the incumbent contractees that currently use C-band to bring many services to consumers. From my perspective, any final proposal that doesn’t do that will be close to a non-starter. That does not mean they all must be accommodated on remaining C-band spectrum, but their ability to offer services cannot be disrupted.”- Paul Kirby, [email protected]
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