Final C-Band Cost Catalog Does Not Include IRDs
A win for broadcasters, but could result in a court battle for FCC
WASHINGTON—Issuing the final cost catalog for C-band relocation expenses and lump sum payments, the FCC has declared that final estimates will not include integrated receivers/decoders (IRDs), a move that cable operators had been pushing for.
The C-band cost catalog, created by the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, is the guidebook for how stations that are set to relocate from the bottom 300 MHz of the C-band spectrum to the top 200 MHz to make room for wireless carriers can be compensated.
Cable operators, including ACA Connects, had been pushing for the inclusion of IRDs in the lump sum estimates, as doing so would help them move to fiber delivery. However, the FCC has determined that the lump sum payments are meant to be an approximation of the cost of moving earth stations, not technology upgrades.
ACAC previously threatened to take the FCC to court if this ended up being the decision. No official comment has yet been made by ACAC over the FCC’s cost catalog. Broadcasters and programmers, on the other hand, were against including IRDs.
IRDs are designed to receive and decode satellite signals from programmers and are needed for cable operators to move earth stations, but not to transition to fiber delivery. Rather than leave that decision up to cable operators, they said that satellite operators and programmers must be responsible for the selection and purchasing of this type of compression technology.
Essentially, the FCC agreed with broadcasters’ argument that the inclusion of IRDs in the lump sum payment would “artificially enlarge the amount of lump sum payments available to MVPDs,” saying that removing these costs “best addresses the concerns commenters raise” when responding to the commission’s lump sum public notice.
As for ACAC’s arguments that cable operators and MVPDs need flexibility as part of this transition, the FCC found none of these arguments persuasive.
“While the 3.7 GHz [C-Band] Report and Order acknowledges that ‘providing incumbent earth station operators flexibility may allow them to make efficient decisions that better accommodate their needs,’ it also recognizes that ‘replacing existing C-band operations with fiber or other terrestrial service may be … more expensive by an order of magnitude.’ The 3.7 GHz Report and Order directs the bureau to establish lump sum amounts based on the ‘average, estimated costs of relocating’ incumbent earth stations, rather than to attempt to approximate the cost of transitioning to alternative transport.”
For the full cost catalog breakdown, visit www.fcc.gov (opens in new tab).
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