Intelsat, SES Agree to Open C-Band Downlink Spectrum for 5G

LUXEMBOURG & WASHINGTON—Satellite companies Intelsat and SES said they have agreed to back a proposal submitted to the FCC for approval that aims to protect satellite service in the 3700-4200 MHz C-band downlink spectrum while opening up about 100 MHZ of the band for mobile operators rolling out 5G service.

“Space and ground segment operators have invested billions of dollars in U.S. C-band networks and connectivity and generate important value out of it,” said SES President and CEO Karim Michel Sabbagh in a press release. “It is therefore our duty and mission to protect the C-band in the U.S. from any form of disruption and preserve its use.”

The proposal would protect video and audio program distribution that serves more than 100 million U.S. households, data connectivity in rural areas and for emergency situations and services for the U.S. government, the companies said.

Under the proposal, a consortium open to all satellite operators providing services in the C-band downlink frequencies to any part of the lower 48 United States would oversee the governance of this initiative. It would define and implement the method to be used to clear spectrum and be the only interface for market-based transactions with those interested in deploying terrestrial mobile service in the proposed portion of the C-band, the companies said in the release.

In October 2017, Intelsat and Intel proposed a solution to the FCC. The latest proposal builds on that work, setting a commercial and technical framework that gives mobile operators quick access to about 100MHz of C-band downlink spectrum nationwide, the companies said.

“Our proposed market-based solution provides a speedy resolution to the U.S. objective of accelerating deployment of 5G services. With Intelsat and SES now in agreement on major tenets of the framework and with the support of Intel, we are confident in our ability to implement this proposal quickly and efficiently, ultimately to the benefit of American consumers and the U.S. economy,” said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler. 

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.