Journalist Chris Forrester at Advanced Television has reported that Eutelsat, in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing on September 19th, told the FCC that it might rejoin the C-Band Alliance (CBA) — Eutelsat dramatically quit the CBA in earlier this month. Lawyers for Eutelsat met with FCC senior officials on September 17th.
The CBA is looking to restructure and auction some of its C-band frequencies over the U.S., and the FCC is expected to announce its decision in the next month or two.
Eutelsat’s filing said, “Eutelsat expressed its willingness to reconsider actively participating in the CBA going forward if, among other things, the structure and management of the CBA could be altered to better represent the interests of all affected stakeholders.”
“During the meeting, Eutelsat discussed its reasons for originally agreeing to join the CBA and its recent decision to withdraw from the CBA. The Eutelsat representatives emphasized that Eutelsat continues to support the CBA’s proposal of employing a secondary markets approach to rapidly clear a significant portion of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band for 5G wireless services and discussed Eutelsat’s views concerning the appropriate role of each stakeholder, the potential allocation of a portion of the reconfiguration proceeds to the U.S. Government, and the treatment of eligible spectrum clearing costs.”
A few days before, on September 11th, Eutelsat filed a document with the FCC which listed each of their satellites with any coverage over the U.S. together with their transponders and frequencies. Some commercially sensitive information as to the revenue from each of these satellites was redacted in the public documents.
Additionally, the World Broadcast Unions (WBU) — in the light of initiatives by the FCC in the U.S., Ofcom in the UK and other national administrations concerning potential C-Band Broadcast Spectrum (3.7 to 4.2 MHz) reassignment for 5G — is expressing their concerns over program collection and distribution and the potential impact on hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.
C-band spectrum in many nations is being repurposed from satellite usage to 5G telecommunications use.
The WBU, in a statement said, “With insufficient C-Band spectrum remaining available for broadcasters’ use, existing distribution and collections systems may be compromised, especially in countries with equatorial geography and high rainfall. Additionally, reallocating C-Band frequencies to other services may, over time, increase pressure on the remaining uplink band further limiting its use and compromising existing C-Band users and service reliability, increasing costs to the broadcast community.”
The WBU reminded regulators that C-band is the international work-horse for the distribution of Television, Radio and other content by broadcasters and other media industries, with millions of professional downlinks and corresponding uplinks in use nationally and internationally and over one hundred million C-band TV receive only antennas in use worldwide (including B2B, internet and DTH satellite).
“The WBU contends that any consideration of reallocating C-Band spectrum is a serious issue with technical, economic and service implications,” said Michael McEwen, Head, WBU Secretariat. “Detailed impact studies involving all stakeholders need to be undertaken to fully understand the consequences before such a reallocation takes place.”
However, the WBU might be a little late in its concerns as many nations have already made the decision to reallocate spectrum. Also, the FCC is actively looking at permitting C-band restructuring by satellite operators over the US.
The WBU stated, “The recent regulatory Inquiries by the US FCC on the potential reallocation of some of the existing C-Band downlink allocation (for 5G services) is a concern for the members of the WBU. Given the ubiquitous use of C-Band spectrum around the world and its potential to provide new services, such US regulatory activity will likely be pursued by other Administrations. Any subsequent proposals to globally harmonize the use of these frequencies above 3600 MHz for IMT, argued for on the basis of national reallocations, do not reflect the realities of global satellite service usage.”
“In addition, in the event some of the downlink C-Band spectrum is reallocated, the associated “twinned” uplink C-Band frequencies may eventually be reallocated to other services. Over time, such a reallocation might further increase pressure on the remaining uplink band, further limiting its use. In all likelihood, harm will be done to existing C-Band users and the solutions will compromise service reliability and increase the costs to the broadcast community,” added the WBU.
The broadcasting unions who belong to the WBU are the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB), the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB/AIR) and the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA).