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Cumulus/WWO Among Those Rejecting Fiber Suggestion as Replacement for C-Band

Cumulus and Westwood One have concerns about both timing and reliability

Earlier this month two of the nation’s largest radio broadcasting companies called on the Federal Communications Commission to reject one particular proposal that’s being suggested when it comes to usage of C-band spectrum.

Cumulus Media and Westwood One responded to an FCC request for comments on a proposal presented by ACA Connects Coalition. The ACA proposal suggests reallocating 370 MHz of C-band spectrum by moving broadcasters to terrestrial fiber delivery instead.

Cumulus and Westwood One expressed concerns about the ACA proposal both from a timing and reliability standpoint, saying the 18-month time frame proposed by ACA for installing a reliable fiber option is unrealistic. “Providing the facilities, data centers, and cable headends with the necessary equipment requires a considerable amount of effort, design, deployment of resources, and testing before any such facility can be put into service,” the two radio broadcasters said. “Agreements would also need to be negotiated and executed to ensure that the content and properties are appropriately protected. All of these matters would need to be in place before any fiber could begin to be deployed.”

[Read: NAB Calls ACA Connects’ C-Band Proposal “Ill-Conceived”]

The company’s second major concern involves reliability.

According to Cumulus and Westwood One, fiber cannot replicate the 99.99% reliability rating that C-band uplinks provide. “Fiber does not have the same combination of efficiency and reliability as the C-band for content delivery,” the companies said.

“The reach of fiber generally has been limited to a few hundred of the largest metropolitan areas and, thus, has not served as a substitute for the nationwide footprint of the C-band satellite infrastructure, at least to this point,” the companies said.

Westwood One said many of its affiliates are small-market broadcasters located in rural areas who do not have access to a terrestrial network such as fiber or high-speed internet. “[This] leaves C-band as the only alternative option,” the companies said.

“If existing earth stations were forced to use fiber as an alternative for the distribution of video content, the result would leave cable systems, and possibly broadcasters as well, in thousands of smaller cities, towns, and rural areas with no affordable means to access the programming they now provide to their respective communities, assuming they would be able to access that programming at all,” the two said.

The comments are part of a larger record of responses about ACA’s proposal to refarm some users of the C-band spectrum to a terrestrial fiber video delivery network. That proposal would clear 370 MHz of C-band spectrum and transition broadcasters and earth station users from C-band delivery to fiber.

While there has been support in some corners for the ACA proposal, a sizable number of organizations have called on the FCC to flatly reject any such proposal, including the National Association of Broadcasters and four U.S. broadcasting networks.

The comments are being submitted as part of Docket 18-122 known as “Expanding Flexible Use of the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz Band” within the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

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