WASHINGTON—The current amount and process for determining potential lump sum payments for earth station operators who will be transitioning from their current locations on the C-band is “inadequate,” according to ACA Connects.
The comments come via a filing on a meeting held on June 26 between FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his Wireless and International Advisor Aaron Goldberger with ACA Connects’ chairman Patricia Boyers and association president and CEO Matthew Polka.
As part of the process of opening up the C-band for 5G development, earth station operators that will be forced to relocate have two options to help with the process: they can choose to have satellite operators take responsibility for transitioning at no cost, or accept a lump sum payment and handle the transition themselves.
Boyers said that she does not want satellite operators, who she says “have no expertise in running a cable business,” making the technical, financial or operational decisions for earth stations’ transitions. Thus the focus of ACAC is on the lump sum payment.
However, Boyers said that the current proposal for lump sum payments in regards to amount and oversight diverge from the FCC’s 3.7 GHz Report and Order. Under the current proposal, lump sum payments could provide MVPD earth station owners like her (she is president of BOYCOM Vision) as little as 7% of the expected average relocation cost for maintaining C-band services. She says that “such an unjustifiably inadequate lump sum amount would undermine the 3.7 GHz Report and Order’s very purpose that the lump sum offer afford MVPDs a real choice to undertake the transition on their own.”
She also pointed out issues on having the lump sum amount differ depending on a station’s number and type of antennas, as well as technology upgrades needed. Boyers insists that the Report and Order requires that the lump sum payment be equal for the same class of earth stations. In addition, she objected to the idea that IRD replacements would be excluded from a lump sum payment.
Polka, meanwhile, noted the disparity between ACAC’s MVPD lump sum estimate and the FCC’s estimate. He says that the differences could be attributed to the commission’s inexperience with the technical, financial and operational issues of MVPD distribution; not seeking input from ACAC and its members; and the decision to determine and seek comment on lump sum amounts prior to reviewing satellite operators’ initial transition plans. The FCC’s speed and lack of transparency on determining lump sum payments has also been a hindrance to the process.
ACAC wants another Public Notice proposal seeking comments on a new lump sum amount for MVPD earth stations that are consistent with the 3.7 GHz Report and Order, as well as incorporating information from ACAC and data from satellite operators’ transition plans.
The full filing from ACAC is available on the FCC’s ECFS page.
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