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Satnews Daily
March 1st, 2020

Forrester Reports: The FCC's C-Band Draft Proposal Now Endorsed by the Full Commission

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has, as largely expected, endorsed the agency's own draft C-band proposals in their open agenda meeting of the full Commission.

Chris Forrester

FCC departmental staff (notably the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau) explained their proposals, which didn’t deviate from their earlier published proposals. They explained how the planned Auction 107 would be adopted using some 5700 blocks of 20 MHz spectrum.

Commissioner Mike O’Rielly described the event as a “fantastic day” and that this new mid-band spectrum of 280 MHz was most welcome despite the occasional tense negotiations and back and forth discussions. He admitted that not everything in the Order was perfect, but the naysayers objections would fade over time.

The Commissioners talked about 3 million new jobs for 5G, which is where the new spectrum will be used. “Americans will start benefitting from the new spectrum next year,” said one, and would start returning tens of millions of dollars to the US tax-payer.

There were negative comments, not least from Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel who said the $9.7 billion “we are set to give away” was not rational and looked like an effort to justify back-room deals. She criticized the roll-out schedule which, at up to eight years, was too long in particular for rural communities.

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks also dissented, saying: “We must seize this great opportunity.  But in its haste to make this spectrum available for new wireless terrestrial uses, the majority has over-stretched our legal precedent and entered into a deal that will take money from American taxpayers to placate foreign satellite operators who may not even keep up their end of the bargain.  I’m concerned that today’s order ultimately will most benefit these satellite operators and the largest wireless carriers, at the expense of both competition and the American taxpayer.”

He also criticised the CBA for their talk of litigation, although admitted the threat of bankruptcy was “real” and predicted a “headache” that could last for years to come. He also complained about the “billions of dollars” that would flow to foreign satellite operators. He claimed that the C-Band Alliance has, over the past few weeks, turned into a “circular firing squad” as members of the CBA turned on each other.