Today, the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on “Repurposing the C-Band to Benefit All Americans,” following up on the introduction of the “C-Band Act,” by Chairman Doyle (D-PA), Reps. Johnson (R-OH), Matsui (D-CA), and Gianforte (R-MT). The act would require the FCC to conduct a public auction of between 200 megahertz and 300 megahertz of C-band spectrum by September 30, 2022. It would also protect the service used by C-band-dependent users throughout and after the transition process.
The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) objected to the legislation, saying that a competing proposal by the Broadband Access Coalition (BAC) employs both an auction and sharing of the spectrum to open up the C-band for other uses, too.
“But we’d like to offer a reminder: There are other viable plans to repurpose the C-band than solely auctioning off spectrum to mobile 5G providers for their largely urban clientele,” Claude Aiken, president and CEO of WISPA, said. “The BAC (of which we are a member) has put forward a plan which urges the Commission to clear 200 MHz for mobile providers, and, with the remaining 300 MHz, allow sharing between incumbent satellite earth stations and fixed wireless providers, or WISPs.”
C-Band Alliance Proposes to Clear 300 Megahertz of Spectrum
The C-Band Alliance (CBA) increased the amount of spectrum it is willing to clear in the C-band up to 300 megahertz of spectrum to support 5G wireless deployment in ex parte meetings with the FCC. The spectrum includes a 20-megahertz guard band to protect existing satellite services from interference.
The CBA originally proposed to clear up to 200 MHz of C-band spectrum, including 20 MHz for a guard band, with the CBA acting a transition facilitator, selling up to 180 MHz through private, secondary market transactions within three years.
The C-band is bounded at the bottom of the band by the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (which occupies the 3.65-3.7 GHz band), and at the top by radio altimeters and wireless avionics intra-communications systems (which occupy the 4.4 GHz band).
The first swathe of spectrum, which will be cleared within 18 months, was increased to 120 megahertz, inclusive of the 20-megahertz guard band. The remaining spectrum will be made available within 36 months from a CBA-led auction, providing cleared spectrum throughout the entire continental United States.
As it completed the work necessary to enhance its proposal, the CBA collaborated closely with U.S. broadcasters and programmers that serve nearly 120 million American homes via the C-band. This work included analyzing the potential use new technologies improves the efficiency of satellite video delivery, allowing the same video content to be transmitted over less spectrum. The CBA proposal commits to implement these technology upgrades at no cost to those satellite customers implementing them.
“The CBA remains committed to ensuring that existing customers continue to enjoy the quality of service they experience now, with no interference from 5G services deployed in the future,” according to a CBA press release. “The CBA member companies will maintain continuity of all current C-band customer services and maintain the value of the continental U.S. C-band video distribution neighborhoods.”