Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why did the CBA submit this proposal?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (“NPRM”) in July 2018. The NPRM seeks to clear mid-band spectrum to accelerate the roll-out of 5G mobile services in the US, while at the same time protecting incumbent satellite services already provided in this spectrum, which is known as C-band. Rather than have existing and valuable services in C-band be disrupted by 5G signals, the CBA solution both clears spectrum while ensuring ongoing reliable services in C-band.
2. What are the key objectives of the CBA proposal?
The proposal focuses on two goals of highest public interest: protect the current services that are delivered by C-band service, namely TV and radio broadcasts to more than 120 million households in the US, and clear a certain portion of the spectrum in a period of 18 to 36 months from the time of an FCC final order. This will support an accelerated entry of the U.S. into the race for 5G services.
3. How does the CBA proposal work?
The block of spectrum known as C-band is 500 MHz that ranges from 3.7 to 4.2 GHz. Today, C-band satellites licensed by the FCC reuse the 500 MHz from every orbital location serving the U.S. The CBA proposes to clear a block of 200 MHz at the lower end of the band. The transition of the current customer traffic from 500 MHz into the remaining 300 MHz requires the procurement of 8 new satellites, the reassignment of appropriate satellite transmission capacity for 100 television networks and their programming and the installation of filters in each of the tens of thousands of earth stations across the country.
4. Who will pay for this whole program?
In order to fund this unprecedented transition and incentivize the satellite operators to abandon their licensed operations in the band, the CBA will pursue open and competitive market-based transactions with terrestrial mobile phone operators, who intend to use the spectrum in order to deploy 5G services in the US. Such transactions will be subject to the approval of the FCC.
5. Won’t this be hugely disruptive to the current users of spectrum?
From time to time, satellite operators have undertaken major moves of incumbents and as a result have experience in how to accomplish such a transition in a seamless manner. Not only will every service be maintained by the CBA members in this compacted 300 MHz environment, but also the CBA proposes to cover all costs of the transition such that broadcasters and earth station operators are whole.
6. Why can’t the CBA clear more than 200 MHz?
Our proposal is based upon the capabilities of the satellite fleets serving the US, current customer contracts, all of which must be upheld, and the amount of capacity that we could replenish, through the launch of new satellites, to support our customer requirements in a 300 MHz environment. Given the need for speed, we consider all of these elements as well as the need to clear spectrum within 18 to 36 months following an FCC final order. We have done a very detailed analysis to determine how much spectrum could be cleared in a short timeframe and without disturbing or disrupting the hugely important video ecosystem. That limit is 200 MHz.
7. What is so special about 18 to 36 months? That sounds like a long time.
The task to transition 100 television and radio networks to a 300 MHz environment is massive. In order to do so, the satellite operators will need to purchase eight satellites to ensure adequate capacity. The CBA could start to implement its proposal and delivering cleared spectrum in 18-36 months from a final FCC decision. Given that historically, the majority of FCC spectrum auctions have required from 7 to 12 years to be completed, the CBA plan offers a streamlined path to bring highly valuable spectrum to the market and develop America’s 5G.
8. What are the highlights of the CBA proposal compared to other concepts?
The CBA proposal protects a video ecosystem that serves more than 120 million households and maintains a multibillion dollar industry. It opens up spectrum to launch 5G in a very speedy manner. It contains a detailed technical transition plan, procures and launches new satellites, installs filters in every single C-band receive antenna in the country, covers all costs and brings secure 5G spectrum to the market quickly.
9. Why is the roll-out of 5G so important?
5G will bring a wide array of ground-breaking new services to the consumers. It is one of the most important economic growth drivers of the 21st century, and the US has to come into a pole position to reap that potential. 5G is forecasted to add $2.7 trillion to the US GDP by 2030.
10. Why would the auction process be in the hands of private companies and not the FCC?
The CBA proposes a transparent approach using beneficial market dynamics under FCC oversight. The key point of its approach is about speed. The transaction process that the CBA suggests is by far the fastest way of deploying the necessary infrastructure to implement 5G without disrupting broadcasting. All administrative processes would take much longer.