It is often said there is honor among thieves. Until, that is, self-interests (money) become more important than collaboration.
That seems to be the case in the C-band battle. After less than two years in existence, the C-band Alliance is kaput. At least, that is what Intelsat is saying. And, if they say it, much like anything one finds on the internet, it must be true.
According to Intelsat, “the FCC’s draft order on the C-band does not contemplate a meaningful role for the C-band Alliance, and it should, therefore, reflect that there will be no C-band Alliance going forward.” My how quickly things can go south. That, after a year of arguing that the engagement of the satellite companies, as a group, was the most expedient way to get mid-band spectrum for 5G.
I have been following this closely for months now and have not been particularly sympathetic to the players or the alliance.
It seems the soap opera just gets better all the time. Now there is discord among the players themselves, threatening to defang the C-Band Alliance. The two biggest members of the C-Band Alliance have gone their separate ways after Intelsat told the FCC that the CBA is essentially dead and the FCC should instead treat Intelsat, SES, and Telesat as individual companies. And, they immediately turned against Eutelsat when they bailed on the alliance last year.
Intelsat believes it should get between 60 percent and 67 percent of the $9.7 billion in proposed compensation because it is more important (it claims to have more C-band revenue, capacity use and satellite dishes in operation across the continental United States than any other operator). The president of hedge fund Appaloosa, which owns about 7.4 percent of Intelsat’s stock, sent a letter to Intelsat’s board urging the company to withhold acceptance of the FCC’s order until it could get more money out of the deal (or it might just file bankruptcy).
Furthermore, SES a bosom buddy of Intelsat throughout months of wrangling over how the C-band would be handled, was none too happy with its former partner’s “eleventh-hour” change of course. It penned that, “SES is disappointed by Intelsat’s eleventh-hour attempt to renounce its commitments made to other CBA members and the commission over the course of this proceeding, in aid of a transparent and egregious attempt to capture a greater share of the proposed accelerated relocation payments. Having worked collaboratively for a long period of time on this project, this sudden and recent change in direction by Intelsat is both disappointing and not legally compliant. SES will hold Intelsat responsible under its commitments.” As well, SES is threatening to work without and, possibly, sue Intelsat.
Telesat would not comment on Intelsat’s actions or SES’s retort. I am sure glad I never had partners like this!
Over the decades that I have been a part of this industry, I have seen most everything. But this particular soap opera just seems to be over the top. And, from players that have no vested interest in the United States other than being able to use our frequencies and receive revenue for that. Now they want billions of dollars to relocate so their current frequencies can be auctioned off for 5G.
Their biggest argument is that it will cost them to relocate. OK, no argument on my part, but the amount of money they want is absurd. They claim it will cost billions to relocate.
I am sure it will cost them. However, I would really love to see an accounting of those costs. If I were Intelsat, I would take my third of the cut and head for the hills. Especially in light of forecasts that point to decreasing revenues and increasing competition. Take the money, relocate THEN file for bankruptcy and renegotiate the five new birds they have in the pipeline. That seems like a typical business option.
This is getting out of control. These foreign companies have been on the American spectrum dole for decades. Now that their glory train is coming to an end, they are claiming they have some rights to this spectrum. That is some gall, considering it never belonged to them, or the C-Band Alliance, as it claimed early on.
I think they should clam up, take the money and move a few hundred megahertz. I think this is a whiner’s play. They have had a gravy train for a long time and now they have to work for their money again. And, the train is not really grinding to a halt. It is merely taking a new track.