Satnews Daily
February 20th, 2020

SES is not a Happy Camper with Intelsat Over C-Band Submission to the FCC

SES S.A. has taken note of the comments made by Intelsat in its ex-parte submission to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) that is dated February 19, 2020.

SES reaffirms the company's steadfast support for the Commission’s objectives to ensure global leadership in 5G and the firm stands ready, willing and able to play a central role in the expedited clearing of a portion of the C-band.

SES believes that there remains an important role for the C-Band Alliance (CBA) and that the CBA’s collaborative clearing plan is the most efficient path to clear the spectrum. That said, SES is prepared to act on its own in the clearing process if necessary, while protecting its customers.

SES is disappointed by Intelsat’s 11th-hour attempt to renounce the commitments they 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.

On February 6, 2020, Intelsat posted the following regarding remarks made by the FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai during an industry event that was hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington, D.C.

The Chairman’s commentary previewed the key elements of a highly anticipated draft order in the C-band proceeding in which Intelsat has been an active participant since 2017. Once issued, the draft order is expected to detail the FCC’s approach to clearing C-band spectrum to enable rapid and nationwide 5G network deployment in the U.S.

Intelsat CEO Steve Spengler said, “The issuance of the draft order represents a significant milestone in a process that we began in 2017. We look forward to reviewing the draft order, once issued, to place Chairman Pai’s comments in full context. We note with appreciation the hard work of all stakeholders to get to this juncture, and the work to come leading up to the Commission’s vote on February 28, 2020.”

During his remarks, Chairman Pai indicated that satellite operators need to be incentivized to undertake the complex task of clearing their licensed spectrum while protecting the television and radio content distribution ecosystem using C-band today. Specifically, the Chairman indicated a total of $9.7 billion of incentive payments for certain satellite operators to clear the spectrum on an accelerated basis, plus the reimbursement of the costs for clearing.

In November 2019, the FCC announced its intention to pursue a public auction of C-Band spectrum, which was a significant departure from the market-based construct advocated by the satellite industry.  Despite that departure, Intelsat has never wavered in its attempts to bring this critical spectrum to market.

Founded in 1962, Intelsat has invested $36 billion to build its C-Band business over the last 40 years. In the course of that time, it has ordered 138 U.S.-manufactured satellites and created tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. Intelsat is the largest provider of communications services to the U.S. military, and is proud to have recently carried the Super Bowl to a TV audience of 100 million people, including over one million members of the U.S. armed forces and their families overseas.

Beginning in September 2017, Intelsat advocated for an innovative structure to clear significant additional spectrum for 5G mobile services, while continuing to deliver on commitments to customers, such as Discovery, Disney, Fox, ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia, who use Intelsat’s C-band to reach nearly 120 million U.S. households. Since that time, it has become increasingly clear that this initiative has the potential both to significantly improve national security and to enable the accelerated deployment of 5G to catalyze a further continuation of what has become the longest U.S. economic expansion in history.

Intelsat firmly supports Chairman Pai, the FCC and the Administration in our shared goals of improving U.S. national security, stimulating hundreds of billions of dollars in additional U.S. economic growth and creating millions of new jobs for U.S. workers. Intelsat will review and analyze the draft order to determine its potential impact on Intelsat’s business and stakeholders.