Satellite stocks shaken after FCC opts for public C-band auction | Mobile | News | Rapid TV News
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The announcement by chairman of the US telecoms regulator the FCC, Ajit Pai, to go for a public rather than a private auction of a sections country’s C-band wireless spectrum in order to hasten the rollout and development of 5G services has seen a major devaluation in the shares of satellite firms, principally Intelsat.

CBA 5g 29Oct2019The FCC has undertaken ongoing rulemaking related to spectrum in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, widely seen as a critical swath of mid-band spectrum that the regulator believes could help drive American leadership in 5G wireless connectivity. This spectrum is regarded as offering both geographic coverage and the capacity to transmit large amounts of data.

In a letter to US senators on 14 November, Pai confirmed his earlier announcement that he would make a decision on how the FCC should proceed by autumn 2019 and he then outlined four principles that he said the FCC must advance through this rulemaking: making available a significant amount of C-band spectrum for 5G; making C-band spectrum available for 5G quickly; generating revenue for the federal government; and protecting the services that are currently delivered using the C-band so they can continue to be delivered to the American public.

Pai noted that after what he called a ‘thorough’ review he had concluded that the best way to advance these principles was through an auction of 280 MHz of the C-band conducted by FCC staff. “With a quarter-century track record of transparent and successful auctions, I am confident that they will conduct a public auction that will afford all parties a fair opportunity to compete for this 5G spectrum, while preserving the availability of the upper 200 MHz of this band for the continued delivery of programming,” Pai said.

This immediately set shockwaves through those calling for a private auction of the spectrum, in particular the members of C-Band Alliance, a consortium established to implement a market-based proposal to clear spectrum, while protecting the quality and reliability of existing C-band services. In October 2019, in filing to the FCC, the CBA offered to clear 300 MHz of C-band spectrum to support fast 5G wireless deployment throughout continental US to protect existing satellite services from 5G interference.

In trading on 18 November 2019 after Pai’s announcement, US financial analyst Seeking Alpha revealed that shares in CBA member Intelsat had fallen by 17.5% triggering a circuit breaker. However, at the same time, fellow CBA member Eutelsat was welcoming the move.

In a statement, the satellite operator said: “Eutelsat Communications welcomes the decision of the FCC laying out a framework for the public auction of a portion of C-band spectrum between 3.7-4.2 GHz, which it regards as an important first step in expediting rapidly and equitably the clearance of C-band frequencies for mobile 5G services. Eutelsat looks forward to engaging with the FCC in a fruitful and positive dialogue aimed at shaping an equitable and efficient process to facilitate the expedition of the auction and subsequent clearing of the frequencies, so that 5G can be rolled out in a timely manner.”