Intelsat has filed its C-band spectrum transition plan with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
“Intelsat is filing its comprehensive transition plan after having spent more than two years proactively working with the FCC, our customers, industry stakeholders, vendors and other satellite operators to create a clear path for meeting the FCC’s accelerated clearing deadlines and ensuring the U.S. maintains its leadership in 5G,” said Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco. “With our detailed plan finalised and our supply chain engaged, Intelsat looks forward to supporting the FCC in successfully transitioning the C-band spectrum and accelerating America’s path to 5G – all while safeguarding the high-quality media broadcast services on which more than 100 million American households rely.”
Earlier this week, Intelsat announced that it has selected US manufacturers, Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman, to design and manufacture satellites required to transition the company’s high-quality media distribution and contribution services – uninterrupted – from the 3.7 to 4.0 gigahertz (GHz) portion of the C-band to the 4.0 to 4.2 GHz portion of the band.
In addition to articulating the company’s strategy to procure, design, build and launch seven satellites, Intelsat’s transition plan details how the company will migrate 80-plus broadcast, cable, radio, religious and government customers to the upper 200 MHz of the C-band, including the corresponding changes required at 3,500 cable head-ends and 13,500 affiliate earth stations. It will need to install 60,000 5G signal-blocking filters across the US in order to mitigate post-transition interference; consolidate multiple telemetry, tracking and control (TT&C)/Gateway antennas into two locations on the East and West Coasts of the US; and contract companies to perform aspects of the transition and installation work required on the ground at thousands of earth stations and cable television head-ends throughout the US.
Intelsat and other satellite operators participating in the FCC’s accelerated C-band clearing plan are responsible for incurring the upfront costs associated with clearing 300 MHz of the spectrum and moving their existing services to the upper portion of the band. Intelsat estimates these upfront investments will cost the company $1.6 to $1.7bn.
In addition to receiving reimbursement for reasonable upfront costs associated with clearing the spectrum and transitioning incumbent services to the upper portion of the band, Intelsat is eligible to receive up to $4.87bn in incentive payments for successfully meeting the Commission’s accelerated deadlines of clearing 120 MHz of spectrum (3.7 to 3.82 GHz) by December 5, 2021, and the remaining 180 MHz (3.82 to 4.0 GHz) by December 5, 2023. Reimbursements will be funded by the winning bidders of the FCC’s public C-band auction, in line with the FCC’s emerging technologies framework.