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Senators Urge FCC to Be Mindful of C-Band Incumbents

Moran and Udall ask agency to remember important role C Band plays today as it considers opening the band to 5G

WASHINGTON — Two senators in a letter to the FCC urged the agency to keep in mind the extensive use of C Band spectrum by satellite operators to distribute content to TV and radio broadcasters, cable TV operators and OTT providers as it considers opening up 3.7–4.2 GHz for new wireless services and shared use.

In their letter, Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) acknowledged the importance of giving U.S. wireless operators access to midband spectrum “to win the global race to 5G.” However, as the agency moves forward on its July Order and NPRM aimed at repurposing C-Band spectrum, it “must ensure that the needs of existing users and the millions of consumers who enjoy the content delivery services that rely on those same spectrum bands can continue to be met,” the letter said.

The senators wrote that more than 100 million American households consume audio and video content distributed to broadcasters, cablecasters and OTT providers via C Band. They added that the band is particularly well-suited to delivery of content in rural areas, important constituencies of both senators.

Calling it “reassuring” that the agency is asking for comment on questions related to protecting C-Band incumbents, the senators expressed appreciation for “the attention that the agency is already dedicating to these important considerations.”

They praised the agency for seeking clarification on the standard to be used to determine the need to relocate various categories of incumbent C-Band users, relief that should be given to each incumbent class and who should be responsible for compensating incumbent earth station operators and C-Band customers for associated transition costs.

The letter affirmed that as part of its proceeding the agency must evaluate whether or not there will be enough spectrum available to continue handling existing C-Band services, whether there is other comparable capacity available and whether new uses of the band “could result in harmful interference to existing services.”