TR Daily CBA Adds Satellite Launches to Implementation Plan
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Friday, November 8, 2019

CBA Adds Satellite Launches to Implementation Plan

The C-Band Alliance today said that it would carry out its proposal last month to increase to 300 megahertz (inclusive of a 20-MHz guard band) the amount of spectrum in the 3.7-4.2 gigahertz band to be repurposed for 5G terrestrial use through “a five-pronged approach” that includes the launch of all eight planned new satellites, the deployment of filters on tens of thousands of C-band receive antennas, and the shift of satellite customer services to higher bands.

Last month, the CBA said in a three-page ex parte filing with the FCC that its proposed private auction of C-band spectrum could clear 300 MHz, including a 20-MHz guard band, up from the previously proposed 200 MHz, which also included a 20-MHz guard band. The filing followed pressure from FCC Commissioners and members of Congress to increase the spectrum to be repurposed in the C-band. Until recently, the CBA had said it could not increase the amount of spectrum to be repurposed in the short term because video compression technologies were not yet ready (TR Daily, Oct. 28).

In a cover letter accompanying today’s ex parte submission in General docket 18-122, CBA Chief Executive Officer Bill Tolpegin said that under its revised transition implementation process, it would “(1) implement cutting-edge technology upgrades and compression solutions to maximize efficient use of spectrum; (2) repack customer services into higher frequency bands on satellites without service interruption; (3) launch eight new satellites to maintain sufficient on-orbit capacity; (4) design and install approximately 100,000 filters on an estimated 35,000 antennas in the continental United States; and (5) ensure those antennas are tuned and pointed correctly to receive the same content they receive today after clearing is completed.”

The original transition implementation process called for the launch of six new satellites with two other satellites held as ground spares against the possibility of launch failure. “The CBA Operators have devised a new launch failure contingency plan that does not rely on satellite ground spares but rather relies on assets already in orbit and the acceleration of the procurement of a ninth satellite that initially was not contemplated in the April Transition Implementation Plan,” the CBA said in the filing.

Mr. Tolpegin said that since filing the original transition implementation process in April, the CBA member companies “have continued to evaluate (including through extensive conversations with customers) methods for maintaining existing services in the C-band while clearing additional spectrum for terrestrial 5G operations. The CBA has looked primarily at ways to reduce the capacity needs of existing services through technology upgrades, including video compression and improvements in modulation as well as replacing, where possible, standard definition video transmissions with high definition transmissions.”

According to the ex parte submission, the CBA members companies “have proposed to fully implement it within 36 months of a successful auction if its proposal is adopted.”

“There is no one technology upgrade that will effectuate the clearing of 300 MHz of spectrum. Instead, a variety of upgrades, including video compression, modulation/coding, and HD to SD down?conversion at downlink locations, will be used,” CBA said.

In an attachment, CBA commits to “pay stipends and cover costs for those customers and their associated End Users that will need technology upgrades to reduce their current level of transponder usage. Only customers identified by Intelsat, SES, and Telesat (collectively, the ‘CBA Operators’) or by non?CBA satellite operators as needing to reduce their transponder usage via technology upgrades (and those customers’ End Users) will be eligible for reimbursement of any expenses reasonably related to implementing the upgrades. End Users will be eligible for stipends and/or cost reimbursements regardless of whether the C?band satellite operator who is providing their service is a member of the CBA.”

The CBA said that it would “identify—in advance of the commencement of any market?based auction process—no more than four TT&C/Gateway locations in CONUS where all 500 MHz will remain in use for Fixed Satellite Service. These sites will be specifically selected to have minimal impact on terrestrial mobile operators’ ability to serve high population areas.”

In an attachment addressing reimbursement and stipend commitments to cover the costs of the transition to satellite customers, the CBA said that “all reasonable costs resulting from the need to clear spectrum (including mitigation expenses to prevent 5G interference) will be reimbursed by the CBA.” The attachment lays out specific stipend commitments, such as $600 to install CBA-approved filters, with a $200 additional stipend available for incidental expenses such as excess labor costs, subject to submission of evidence of the expenses through the CBA review process.

Peter Pitsch, head of advocacy and government relations at CBA, said, “The new Transition Implementation Process provides a comprehensive execution plan that demonstrates how the CBA will complete the complex task of clearing 300 MHz of C-band spectrum to enable the speedy rollout of 5G in the continental U.S., while protecting the important incumbent content ecosystem. No other proposal offers this level of detail, and no other proposal would free up C-band spectrum as quickly or in such a coordinated and accountable manner. Bottom line, clearing mid-band spectrum for 5G with a market-based approach will speed economic growth, generating tax receipts, jobs, and other social benefits years faster than any alternative.” —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]

MainStory: FederalNews FCC SpectrumAllocation

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