Agency Needs To Reconcile Conflicts Without Harming Incumbent Users
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted Hearn
PITTSBURGH, December 13, 2018 – In reply comments, the American Cable Association criticized proposals set forth by the C-Band Alliance and the Broadband Access Coalition and provided the Federal Communications Commission with recommendations that would help the agency balance and reconcile several conflicting objectives in connection with the C-Band. The C-Band is a swath of the airwaves heavily used today by ACA members and others to receive video content by satellite and that also holds possible but untested promise for use in other services.
“The FCC should take cautious actions that take into account C-band users’ and the public’s rights, consistent with ACA’s comments and these reply comments. The risk of harm to consumers is far from academic,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
ACA’s reply comments, filed Dec. 11, suggested generally that the FCC employ a mechanism that clears a limited amount of spectrum that could be used for flexible use that is based on, or at least fully takes into account, user rights. ACA made the following recommendations regarding the considerations that should be taken into account moving forward:
First, the FCC should attempt to clear no more than 50 MHz of spectrum for 5G uses. While the loss of 50 MHz of spectrum most likely could be offset by the satellite companies’ commitment to launch a few additional satellites, these new satellites would be insufficient to make up for the loss of 150 MHz or 200 MHz suggested by the C-Band Alliance. According to Professor William Rogerson of Northwestern University, who wrote a paper on this subject that was attached to ACA’s reply comments, if 200 MHz of spectrum was re-farmed, more than 15 new satellites would be needed to be launched to preserve what’s understood to be the industry’s total operational capacity today.
ACA urged the FCC to be mindful to do no harm to existing C-Band users and their customers. If too few satellites are launched to make up for the amount of spectrum cleared, among the many problems, the number of competitive choices for the satellite industry’s customers would go down, leading to higher prices.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, the FCC should fully take into account the rights not only of satellite operators but also of C-Band users, including cable operators. The FCC could achieve this goal by using an auction or other mechanism that compensates not only satellite operators but also users as well as the public.
In distributing a portion of the proceeds to incumbent users, the FCC should proceed from the principle that all users should be compensated for all of their costs, including prior investment and opportunity costs. Contrary to the C-Band Alliance’s argument, users should not be limited to their “reconfiguration and relocation costs.”
If the FCC were to allow a satellite operator coalition to negotiate divestitures of C-Band rights, as proposed by the C-Band alliance, C-Band users should still have a seat at the negotiating table, and divestiture should be contingent on an agreement reached both by operators and users on the terms for relinquishing their use of a portion of the spectrum.
Finally, ACA argued that a reduction in the amount of satellite C-Band spectrum would make it especially inappropriate to require users of satellite services to share spectrum with a new Point-to-Multipoint service. The FCC should not take away part of the Fixed-Satellite Service spectrum to earmark it for 5G, and then shoehorn yet another terrestrial point-to-multipoint service in the spectrum that remains for satellite backhauls.
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing more than 700 smaller and medium-sized, independent companies that provide broadband, phone and video services to nearly 8 million customers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit: https://www.americancable.org/