Earlier this year, the FCC voted on and passed a plan
to clear the lowest 280 MHz of the 3.7–4.2 GHz spectrum, as well as a 20 MHz buffer band, to make it available for 5G. Currently, this band is primarily used by the satellite industry, thus the new rules would necessitate them shifting their operations to the upper 200 MHz of the band (4.0–4.2 Ghz).
Now, Intelsat, the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network, has officially committed to the programme, agreeing to clear the required spectrum by the 2023 deadline.
“As the foundational architects of satellite technology and leading experts of integrated communications technologies, Intelsat is committed to advancing – at an accelerated pace – America’s position in the race to 5G. With decades-deep institutional knowledge of the U.S. C-band, we understand what’s required to successfully and quickly transition current users, while maintaining high-quality, uninterrupted broadcast to more than 100 million American homes and businesses,” said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler.
At the time of its announcement, the FCC’s plan draw some criticism, particularly for the considerable incentives being offered to the satellite companies if they hit their targets, which equate to almost $10 billion. Political figures lambasted these huge incentives as a waste of taxpayer money, but the FCC maintained that they were necessary to ensure a speedy transition.
Now, with the trade war with China once again in full swing and 5G becoming a proxy battleground, these objections appear to have quietened. It is no surprise that Intelsat’s CEO mentions “America’s position in the race to 5G”, as this issue has taken centre stage in the US–China telecoms sphere in recent months, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic and its related controversy.
The FCC plans to auction further spectrum in December this year, aiming to raise $30–$77 billion.
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