SES Completes C-Band Clearing Early

The European satellite firm Société Européenne des Satellites (SES) says the FCC validated the certification of the satellite company’s Phase II accelerated C-band clearing and repack activities. It completed Phase 1 in 2021.

SES says it’s now completed its commitment to the FCC’s schedule to clear a portion of the C-band for wireless use for 5G services. SES has satisfied the Phase II relocation requirements before the FCC’s December 5, 2023 deadline. That means it’s now eligible to receive the accelerated relocation payment of $2.99 billion (before tax of 18-19 percent). According to the FCC’s Report and Order on this topic in 2020, wireless carriers that bought C-band spectrum in the agency’s auction that ended in 2021 must pay the satellite operators’ early band clearing fees. 

SES expects this payment to be made in the fourth quarter of this year. For meeting its Phase 1 accelerated C-band clearing deadline in 2021, the company received $1 billion in the subsequent year.

The satellite company had to accomplish several goals to meet the deadline. That included launching five new satellites to continue enabling broadcast delivery of television programs to nearly 120 million TV homes, as well as providing critical data services in the upper 200 MHz of the C-band (4000-4200 MHz). It repacked all of its C-band downlink services in the continental U.S. (CONUS) into the upper 200 MHz of the C-band. SES also had to change frequencies for the associated incumbent Earth Stations throughout CONUS into the upper 200 MHz of the C-band.

It made equipment changes to those Earth stations to allow operators to receive substantially the same service during and after the repack as they were able to receive before the changes. This included providing passband filters to block signals from the 3700-4000 MHz band to the associated incumbent Earth Stations in CONUS. Finally, SES modified telemetry, tracking, and control operations to receive telemetry above the 4000 MHz band.

“We are incredibly proud to meet the FCC’s ambitious Phase II deadline ahead of schedule, and it speaks to the remarkable work and caliber of the SES team, our trusted partners, and our network of vendors over the last five years,” said SES CEO Ruy Pinto. “Beyond executing a major strategic project that enables the FCC to usher in the next generation of 5G connectivity and innovation in the United States, I am pleased to say we have placed our customers’ interests first and carefully transitioned our customers to ensure they will be able to continue delivering uninterrupted C-band broadcast and radio services to millions of American homes.”

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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