WASHINGTON — The C-Band Alliance continues to press its case at the Federal Communications Commission for a market-based solution to freeing up more spectrum for 5G, telling the regulator it can repurpose the band within three years and arguing that is the fastest route to the 5G uses the agency is promoting.
The alliance, comprising satellite operators who provide services to clients including broadcasters and cable operators, this week said it has given the FCC more details about its plan to transition programming networks out of 200 MHz of the 500 MHz of spectrum in the band so that licenses for that 200 MHz can be acquired by wireless operators in market deals.
The 5G-centric FCC is definitely going to free up some portion of the C-band (3.7-4.2 GHz) for next-generation wireless, part of a grand plan to free up as much low-, mid- and high-band spectrum as possible, but sought comment on just how to do that, either through a traditional FCC auction or via marketplace mechanisms like deals between carriers and satellite operators as the alliance is proposing, perhaps even cutting cable operators and broadcasters in for a piece of the proceeds.
The alliance has argued that waiting for the FCC to set up and conclude an auction would take more time than marketplace deals, though one source on the other side said there will be a raft of lawsuits if the agency adopts the plan that could push back that timeline.
The new filing includes how the move will impact the cable and broadcast earth stations they use to receive their programming networks (cable) and network programming (broadcast) via satellite and the "general order" of the transition, as well as a timeline for making the cleared spectrum available for 5G.
The 200 MHz includes a 20-MHz guard band to provide separation between the wireless and broadcast/cable operations. Both broadcasters and cable providers are concerned about potential interference, given that what's at stake is network programming fed to hundreds of cable headends and broadcast TV stations.
The plan is to transition the spectrum within three years.
"Among other pledges, the alliance is committing to: "Coordinating with every C-band user, covering all costs of transitioning audio and video services to a reduced spectrum footprint."
The C-Band Alliance is proposing to cover the moving expenses of their satellite service customers, including broadcasters and cable operators, with 120% of the costs of repacking them onto new satellites and/or frequencies placed in an escrow account to insure there is enough.