In USA: C-Band Alliance now proposes clearing 300 MHz of spectrum
The C-Band Alliance (CBA) has proposed the clearance of 300 MHz of C-band (mid-band) spectrum to support 5G. In an updated filing with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the CBA said that the spectrum cleared would include a 20-MHz guard band to protect existing satellite services from 5G interference. The first tranche will be made available in 46 metropolitan zones, within 18 months of the FCC order, to 120 MHz and inclusive of the 20-MHz guard band. The second tranche will become available within 36 months from a CBA-led auction, providing cleared spectrum throughout the entire continental US.
The alliance was created in October by satellite operators Intelsat, SES, Eutelsat and Telesat, with the goal of making the mid-band available quickly. The alliance said that last year that up to 200 MHz of mid-band spectrum could be cleared. The plan was opposed by a group of 22 public interest groups, who wrote to the FCC, saying that letting foreign satellite operators « privately sell the public’s airwaves will achieve little more than windfall profits for satellite operators ». Last week, a group of lawmakers introduced the C-Babd Act, which would require the FCC to conduct a public auction of the C-band.
CBA said now that it has worked closely with US broadcasters and programmers to prepare its plans. The work included looking at the potential use by some customers of technologies such as advanced modulation, single format transport and advanced video compression, including High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). Each of these technologies improves the efficiency of satellite video delivery, allowing the same video content to be transmitted over less spectrum. The CBA said it will implement these technology upgrades at no cost to satellite customers implementing them. The alliance said it will also cover other costs to the transition.
Support from other firms
The CBA added that it was joined by a number of national, regional and rural mobile operators with the filing, and with the set of principles designed to guidance a CBA-led auction. Verizon, AT&T, Bluegrass Cellular, Pine Belt Wireless and US Cellular joined the an FCC filing, FierceWireless reported.
Verizon and AT&T supported CBA plans in earlier FCC filings. T-Mobile US did not join the filing however, arguing for a public auction. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray met with FCC commissioners last week to discuss the C-band, and noted support for transitioning many existing users to fibre.
The auction principles that mobile and satellite firms are proposing suggest the use of a multi-round ascending clock auction format, similar to other FCC auction, the CBA said. The principles call for a single auction that would include all proposed cleared spectrum, divided into 20 MHz blocks based on partial economic areas, regardless of timing or tranche. Other principles detailed in the filing include the setting of an aggregate reserve price and the agreement for participants to be bound by the FCC’s communications rules, reporting obligations and enforcement.