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NAB Seeks Quality Control for C-Band Transition

(Image credit: AVComm)

WASHINGTON—The FCC is attempting to put the transition of satellite operations to the upper 200 MHz of the C-band for expanded 5G development on the fast-track, but the NAB, as well as other interested parties, has attempted to raise what it sees as key issues in the proposed transition.

Representatives from the NAB, Discovery, The Walt Disney Company, Fox Corp, Univison and ViacomCBS met with members of the FCC on Feb. 13 to discuss a number of these topics, which has been summarized in a filing by the NAB.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal made a point to say the transition needed to protect the services that satellite operators in the C-band currently provide—which includes news, sports, entertainment and other content—but the NAB’s comments provide a specific four-point proposal that it believes would ensure that the quality of that content is not diminished as a result of the transition.

The plan includes allowing satellite customers to comment on each satellite operator’s transition plan before approving it to ensure it meets with existing commitments and will preserve service through and after the transition; it suggests a comment deadline of Aug. 3 so that satellite operators can meet the proposed Aug. 12 deadline for submitting revised plans.

NAB also wants the FCC to require the Clearinghouse to resolve disputes concerning comparability and workmanship of facilities and preservation of service as they arise; that the commission should seek information from space station operators and other stakeholders to confirm a successful transition by issuing a Public Notice and allowing for stakeholders to identify issues within 30 days; and that satellite operators’ commitments for continued service should be protected, including compression, modulation and resolution purposes.

The NAB’s comments also dug into the Pai’s plan to incentive a speedy transition by offering funds for satellite operators who meet certain deadlines for moving to the upper band. However, the NAB believes that promising such incentives could lead to rushed transitions that negatively impact viewers. It also wonders what may happen if satellite operators choose not to opt in to the accelerated timeline even with incentives. The organization, instead, proposes a sliding scale where acceleration payments decrease gradually over time, as well as extensions of the final clearing deadline in the event of delays outside of satellite operators control.

The filed comments from the NAB also discuss potential issues with technical rules—specifically regarding protection of continued operations in the 4.0-4.2 GHz satellite band; the use of the C-band by transportable Earth stations; tracking, telemetry and control functions; Earth station operators costs; and the proposed lump sum option.

The full comment filed by the NAB is available via the FCC’s ECFS resource.