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C-Band Relocation Payments Begin

Incumbent earth station operators who submitted directly will see reimbursements soon

Comtech dish on roof of WUWM Radio in Milwaukee. Courtesy Dawnco
Comtech dish on roof of WUWM Radio in Milwaukee. Courtesy DAWNco

The entity responsible for paying out claims to incumbent earth station operators affected by the C-band shakeup in the United States says it has started cutting checks.

The C-band Relocation Payment Clearinghouse (RPC) is paying claims filed directly by operators for costs related to reconfigure facilities in order to free up spectrum in the C-band.

The RPC says it is evaluating additional claims for reimbursement or lump-sum payments. It will continue to send payments as it approves applications and is urging potential claimants to come forward with their claims.

Approximately 1,500 earth station operators, some holding multiple licenses, already chose the lump-sum option, according to data from the FCC earlier this year, including many broadcasters. But licensees that did not accept that option are expected to work with their satellite providers or to directly recoup justifiable filter, dish and labor expenses from the RCP.

[“C-Band Migration Underway for Dish Users”]

Incumbent earth station operators, space station operators and other eligible fixed-service licensees transitioning out of the band are generally eligible for certain relocation cost reimbursements or other payments.

Some entities potentially eligible still have not filed claims, according to a press release from RPC, or have not registered with the RPC. “Once those entities have set up their profiles and filed claims, the RPC will evaluate their applications and make payments to those whose claims have been approved,” it stated in the release.

“We are making great progress in collecting claimant profiles, approving claims, and making payments to qualified entities that are relocating on the C-band,” said Frank Banda, RPC program manager. “We encourage all entities that might be eligible for reimbursement or lump-sum payments to register and file their claims as soon as possible. The sooner they file their claims, the sooner they can receive reimbursement or lump-sum payments.”

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Incumbent earth stations can seek reimbursement for the modification and reconfiguration of earth station dishes or possible relocation, if necessary to prevent interference from new 5G users, according to those familiar with the process.

Approximately 20,000 registered earth stations in the contiguous United States, according to the FCC, are classified as incumbent earth stations for purposes of the C-band transition.

To submit claims for reimbursement or lump-sum payments, claimants can log into their RPC Coupa profile and follow the instructions. The RPC website provides guidance.

The band repack process has several phases with hard deadlines involved, according to the FCC. Phase 1 involves earth stations in the lower 100 MHz of the band (3.7–3.8 GHz) in 46 Partial Economic Areas to be repacked by Dec. 5. Those are largely in urban areas and include most, if not all, major radio markets, according to the FCC. All remaining earth stations will need to be transitioned in Phase 2 of the repack by December 2023.

C-band refers to frequencies in the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz range. The spectrum has been used extensively by radio and television broadcasters for satellite C-Band downlinks, but those services are being repacked to the upper portion (4.0–4.2 GHz) of the band. The FCC mandated the spectrum shift as part of its effort to move toward the national expansion of 5G. It is making available 280 MHz of C-band spectrum (3.7–3.8 GHz), including a 20 MHz guard band, for flexible use throughout the contiguous United States.

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