House lawmakers, with legislation in tow, push for public C-band auction

WASHINGTON — Greater than half a dozen Home lawmakers stated Oct. 29 that the FCC, not the satellite tv for pc {industry}, ought to conduct an upcoming public sale to switch C-band spectrum to the 5G wi-fi {industry}.

A number of of these members, talking at an Oct. 29 listening to by the Home Power and Commerce communications and expertise subcommittee, questioned the legality of an industry-run public sale, saying the Federal Communications Fee is the one physique licensed to conduct U.S. spectrum auctions. 

“This may be an unprecedented departure from the way in which Congress has instructed the FCC to reallocate spectrum previously,” Home Power and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) stated. “Beneath the Communications Act, we required the FCC to run auctions that present income to the treasury, which is crucial to making sure the American folks profit from these auctions.”

The FCC is predicted to determine on how one can reallocate some or all the 500 megahertz of C-band satellite tv for pc downlink spectrum for mobile 5G providers by the tip of this 12 months. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated throughout an Oct. 17 Senate listening to that the fee was reviewing its public sale authority below Part 309 of the Communications Act, the 1934 legislation that established the FCC to supervise phone, telegraph and radio communications. 

4 Home members — Reps Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Invoice Johnson (R-Ohio), and Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) — launched a invoice Oct. 24 to mandate the fee conduct the C-band public sale itself. 

The Clearing Broad Airwaves for New Deployment, or C-BAND Act, requires a public public sale of 200 to 300 megahertz of the spectrum. 

“The [FCC] chairman doesn’t have the authority to conduct a personal public sale of the C-band, and should use the public sale authority offered by Congress by way of an FCC-led public public sale,” Matsui stated. “Abandoning this confirmed mannequin might result in protracted litigation, inflicting pointless delays in making this 5G spectrum obtainable, and shortchange the American taxpayer.”

Luxembourg-based Intelsat and SES, and Telesat Canada, working collectively because the C-Band Alliance, had gained favor on the FCC for coming ahead with their very own plan to relinquish spectrum they previously sought to protect. 

Throughout the Oct. 29 listening to, Reps Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), additionally stated they like a public public sale. Many steered proceeds from promoting the spectrum — which might vary from a number of billion {dollars} to $60 billion — ought to go to authorities packages to carry broadband to rural and underserved areas. 

Stress now exists in each chambers of Congress for a public public sale, after Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations monetary providers and basic authorities subcommittee, pushed for a public public sale throughout an Oct. 17 listening to.

Trade reactions 

C-Band Alliance officers weren’t among the many 5 witnesses on the Oct. 29 listening to, however representatives with competing proposals have been. 

Ross Lieberman, senior vice chairman of ACA Connects, a bunch of 700 small and medium-sized telecom suppliers, reiterated the group’s proposal for a public public sale of 370 megahertz of C-band spectrum. ACA Connects, Constitution Communications and the Aggressive Carriers Affiliation say the FCC ought to use some proceeds from the public sale to construct fiber as a substitute for satellite tv for pc C-band infrastructure — a activity they estimate would price $6 billion to $7 billion and take 5 years to finish. 

The C-Band Alliance plan would depart ACA Connects members with too little spectrum to make sure secure continuity of service, Lieberman stated. 

“And not using a fiber different, our members shall be caught with larger costs to make use of a much less dependable C-band that’s extra liable to interference and unable to fulfill future calls for,” he stated. 

Lieberman additionally criticized the C-Band Alliance’s estimate that it may clear 300 megahertz of spectrum in 36 months of an FCC order, arguing that cable operators must do many of the work upgrading and reconfiguring their programs to make use of much less spectrum. 

Jim Frownfelter, CEO of satellite tv for pc operator ABS, rebutted Lieberman’s criticism, however didn’t advocate for the C-Band Alliance plan. 

Frownfelter, who was president of Panamsat, after which at Intelsat after the latter purchased Panamsat in 2005, stated the satellite tv for pc {industry} undertook the same {hardware} overhaul within the early 2000s when the proliferation of high-definition channels required huge infrastructure upgrades. 

“That effort is extensively extra sophisticated than what we’re speaking about right here,” he stated. 

Frownfelter advocated for a personal spectrum public sale, however utilizing a plan put ahead by Bermuda-based ABS, Spanish operator Hispasat and Brazilian operator Embratel Star One. 

Frownfelter stated the C-Band Alliance plan excludes the three regional operators as a result of they didn’t generate any C-band income in 2017, regardless of having at the very least partial protection of the US. 

ABS acquired its FCC license to offer C-band providers in the US in 2017, that means the corporate, which has world ambitions, didn’t have time to monetize its U.S. C-band protection, he stated. 

ABS, Hispasat and Star One every spent near $250 million constructing and launching satellites designed, at the very least partially, to serve the U.S. market, Frownfelter stated. Any spectrum public sale, public or personal, that squanders these investments could be unfair, he argued. 

All three operators “have invested a fortune in reliance on FCC guidelines and have accomplished all the pieces proper,” Frownfelter stated. “We hope that the FCC and Congress will do proper by us too.”

Frownfelter stated the regional operator’s proposal ensures all FCC-licensed satellite tv for pc operators are compensated for any spectrum loss, ensures a multi-billion-dollar contribution to the U.S. treasury, and supplies monetary incentives to earth-station operators that would lead to a sooner clearing of spectrum than the C-Band Alliance plan. 

The night earlier than the listening to, the C-Band Alliance elevated the quantity of spectrum it stated it might half with from 200 megahertz to 300 megahertz. The alliance additionally filed a letter with the FCC — co-signed by U.S. mobile community giants AT&T and Verizon, and smaller firms Pine Belt Wi-fi, Bluegrass Mobile and U.S. Mobile — highlighting “areas of consensus” on C-band. 

The C-Band Alliance and different signatories listed eight such areas of consensus overlaying public sale particulars that they stated ought to assist information any public sale kind, “whatever the final end result of this continuing.”

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