TR Daily Court Denies SSOs’ Request to Stay C-Band Order
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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Court Denies SSOs’ Request to Stay C-Band Order

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today denied small satellite operators’ (SSOs’) request to stay implementation of the FCC’s C-band order pending judicial review of their appeal of the item (TR Daily, June 17).

“Appellants have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending appeal,” said a brief order issued by Circuit Judges Thomas B. Griffith, Robert L. Wilkins, and Gregory G. Katsas.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai welcomed the news.

“Today’s ruling is great news for American consumers and U.S. leadership in 5G,” he said. “I am very pleased that the D.C. Circuit rejected this attempt by small satellite operators with no U.S. operations in the C-band to delay our efforts to repurpose critical mid-band spectrum. The FCC will continue to defend our order on the merits, and I look forward to our C-band auction beginning on December 8.”

Phillip Spector, a consultant for the SSOs, said, “The SSOs are disappointed that the Court of Appeals denied the SSOs' request for a stay of the FCC's proceedings relating to the C-band spectrum reallocation. This result, however, was not surprising; most requests to stay administrative agency decisions are denied by the Court of Appeals. The SSOs' appeal of the FCC's decision, which we believe to be unlawful, remains pending in the Court of Appeals. We expect to ask the Court for an expedited briefing schedule and are hopeful that the Court will resolve the appeal in advance of the scheduled December 2020 FCC auction of C-band frequencies.”

Earlier this month, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau denied a petition filed by the SSOs for a stay of the order pending judicial review (TR Daily, June 10).

The SSOs—ABS Global Ltd., Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales S.A. (ARSAT), and Hispamar Satelites S.A. and Hispasat S.A.—filed their legal challenge last month (TR Daily, May 4). Also challenging the FCC in the proceeding are PSSI Global Services LLC, a satellite transmission company, and SES Americom, Inc. (TR Daily, May 26). The cases have been consolidated (cases beginning with 20-1142).

In their legal challenge, the SSOs complain that the FCC shortchanged them by refusing to compensate them for their revoked spectrum rights and authorizing about $15 billion in payments, including $9.7 billion in accelerated relocation funds, to their larger competitors (TR Daily, Feb. 28).

The SSOs filed an emergency motion for stay pending appeal and an immediate administrative stay that would be in effect until the court rules on the stay pending appeal.

The FCC and wireless and satellite industry entities last week asked the court to deny a stay (TR Daily, June 18).

“The Small Operators are not entitled to a stay pending review,” the FCC said in a filing. “First and foremost, they cannot show that they will suffer imminent and irreparable harm without a stay. By the terms of the Order, no satellite incumbent will be required to do anything until the deadline for ceasing operations in the lower 300 MHz arrives in December 2025—and it will take no effort for the Small Operators to clear that spectrum, because they are not currently using it to serve any U.S. customers.” —Paul Kirby, [email protected]

MainStory: FCC Courts SpectrumAllocation WirelessDeployment Satellites

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