5G Broadband/Connectivity News Operators Satellite

SES to accelerate clearing of C-Band spectrum in support of FCC’s 5G Plan

SES will make substantial investments with US companies to meet accelerated clearing goal and support America’s global leadership in 5G.

SES has elected to clear a portion of the C-band spectrum in the United States in accordance with the accelerated timeline detailed in the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Order published in the Federal Register on April 23, 2020. SES will file the election on May 26, ahead of the May 29 FCC deadline.

Accelerated clearing, including the migration of existing customers, is an important and resource-intensive process for the current C-band users. The SES Board of Directors has approved an investment envelope of $1.6bn which includes the procurement and launch of new satellites and other equipment and services – expenses that are reimbursable through the program Clearinghouse. SES intends to place the vast majority of this investment with US suppliers.

In line with SES’s firm commitment to maintaining investment-grade status, the company has secured deferred payment terms with the vendors taking part in the satellite programs associated with the accelerated clearing, ahead of reimbursement by the clearinghouse. SES intends to meet the deadlines envisaged in the FCC Order, which entitles SES to receive up to $3.97bn in accelerated relocation payments.

From the outset of this proceeding, SES has supported accelerated clearing of a portion of the C-band spectrum, as well as the Commission’s objective of quickly driving 5G leadership with the use of this spectrum while also protecting the spectrum’s current users.

Under the Order, the accelerated clearing is contingent on elections to clear having been made by eligible satellite operators representing at least 80% of accelerated relocation payments. SES’s decision to elect is a critical component in achieving this.

While SES is firmly supportive of accelerated clearing per the FCC Order, the company opposes the potential sunsetting of its 300 MHz C-band rights by December 2025 in the unlikely event that accelerated clearing does not proceed as outlined in the Order. 

As a strictly precautionary measure, SES intends to file a petition for review with the reviewing court to preserve its rights should the accelerated clearing option no longer be available.