TR Daily SES Asks FCC to Reject Requests for ‘Significant Changes’ to C-Band Order
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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

SES Asks FCC to Reject Requests for ‘Significant Changes’ to C-Band Order

SES Americom, Inc., has asked the FCC to reject requests that the agency make “significant changes” to the draft C-band order that it plans to consider at its meeting Friday, saying that the item “largely strikes an equitable balance of the competing interests at play.”

In an ex parte filing posted today in GN docket 18-122, SES reiterated its support for the draft order, although it also has sought modifications to the item.

“In this proceeding, the Commission was faced with two conflicting policy objectives: expeditiously and efficiently transitioning 280 megahertz of C-band spectrum for terrestrial 5G services while protecting incumbent operations that serve nearly 120 million homes. The C-Band Alliance (‘CBA’) developed a plan that allowed eligible space station operators to internalize and balance these competing interests to make as much spectrum available as quickly as possible in a nondisruptive and efficient manner. After nearly a thousand submissions to the record and years of deliberation, the Commission created a proposed framework that largely aligns with the CBA’s carefully orchestrated approach. The Commission has all the information needed to move forward with the balanced framework it has developed,” SES argued.

“Certain proposals in recently filed ex parte submissions, however, would upend the careful balance between providing accelerated access to spectrum and adequately protecting customers and earth station operators,” it added. “Some parties seek more process and more protections for the transition, whereas others seek speed at all costs. And yet others have sought to overturn the Commission’s funding framework in their belated requests for more money. While some minor modifications — especially on the timing of certain interim deadlines — are likely needed as detailed in SES’s recent submission (TR Daily, Feb. 21), SES believes that the Draft Report and Order largely strikes an equitable balance of the competing interests at play.”

“Multiple incumbent earth station operators have argued that they should exert more control over the transition plans submitted by eligible space station operators,” SES complained. “For example, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association (‘NCTA’) argues that its members should have the right to comment on the transition plans submitted by the individual satellite operators. Similarly, Charter Communications asks that the Commission ‘require each space station operator to collaborate and consult with the affected earth station operators in developing their respective Transition Plans.’ And ACA Connects—America’s Communications Association (‘ACA Connects’) asks for at least two weeks to respond to transition plans and a requirement that satellite operators respond to their requests. SES intends to work collaboratively with customers and affiliated incumbent earth stations. For the FCC to micromanage this process and give earth station operators more veto power over our transition plans through a mandatory consultation process is neither necessary for nor consistent with accelerated clearing. These unnecessary requests overlook the satellite operators’ inherent incentives to carry out a successful C-band transition for their customers.”

SES also said that it concurs “with Disney and ESPN (collectively, ‘Disney’) that occasional use operations are among the many important services currently delivered by the C-band and should be protected like other incumbent earth stations in the upper 200 megahertz of the C-band. That said, eligible space station operators should not be compelled to prioritize occasional use operations in the upper portion of the band, which may disrupt the careful migration of transponders between different uses. SES also agrees with the proposal by Disney that the Commission should develop a ‘reasonable process for registering venues where occasional use is especially likely to be relied upon.’ That said, the multi-stakeholder group set forth in the Draft Report and Order would not be well suited to fulfilling this purpose because the issue relates to the transportable operators and 3.7 GHz Service licensees — not the industry at large. Transportable operators can petition the Commission to allow for site registrations and can also request that the Commission allow them to coordinate directly with 3.7 GHz Service licensees for interference protection.”

SES also reiterated that the FCC should not modify the distribution of up to $9.7 billion in accelerated relocation payments. Intelsat S.A. has said it should get between 60% and 67% of the payments rather than the proposed 50%. SES has said it should get the same 50% as Intelsat but has also expressed support for the allocations as proposed, which would grant it 41%. Telesat Canada has also asked the FCC to reject Intelsat’s plea (TR Daily, Feb. 24). Eutelsat S.A. is seeking a greater cut of the funds.

“A few disaffected parties have urged the Commission to significantly revamp its funding decisions, including the distribution of accelerated relocation payments and/or relocation payments among eligible satellite operators. As SES has previously demonstrated, for example, Intelsat has provided insufficient evidence or compelling legal basis for the Commission to revisit its proposed distribution methodology and award Intelsat a greater share of the accelerated relocation payments at the expense of other CBA members,” SES said.

“The same flaws afflict Eutelsat’s and the so-called Small Satellite Operators’ (‘SSOs’) requests for more money, as discussed below,” SES added. “The Draft Report and Order makes clear that eligibility for relocation costs requires parties to demonstrate cognizable operations that must be relocated. Likewise, a lynchpin of the Draft Report and Order is that accelerated relocation payments require C-band services whose relocation can be accelerated. Nevertheless, the SSOs, in a last-ditch effort to obtain some pecuniary benefit from this proceeding, despite numerous missed opportunities to demonstrate the existence of eligible customers, now ask the Commission to change the rules for their ‘unique’ circumstances. No such major modifications are warranted at this late stage, mere days away from the Commission’s vote.”

SES added that “there is no basis to grant Eutelsat’s request to significantly revise the Draft Report and Order’s distribution methodology to conveniently award Eutelsat approximately $1 billion more than what the Draft Report and Order has set aside for Eutelsat, and take away approximately $2 billion from SES and Telesat. In support of this radical change, Eutelsat recycles arguments — with no new facts or arguments — in favor of a ‘stranded capacity’ standard that the Commission has already considered and rejected.” —Paul Kirby, [email protected]

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