A fight over the terms of a proposed sale of C-Band spectrum (3.7GHz to 4.2GHz) in the US looked set to come to a head, as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai set a date for a vote on the issue by the regulator.
Despite repeated offers from a group of satellite service providers known as the C-Band Alliance (CBA) to hold a private sale in early 2020, Pai previously said the agency would push for a public auction.
At a press conference on 30 January, Pai said the commission would vote on the matter at its meeting on 28 February.
Details of Pai’s plan have yet to be publicly released. However, Reuters reported the FCC plans to offer incentive payments in the “low-single-digit billions” to convince satellite service providers currently occupying the band to rapidly relocate to new frequencies.
The goal is to finalise procedures to enable an auction to take place later this year. But an extended fight appears to be brewing, as CBA representatives told Reuters the FCC’s planned compensation offer “is not going to do it”.
In filings with the FCC, CBA stated it would cost $3.3 billion to clear 300MHz of C-Band spectrum. However, the Alliance noted the airwaves have been valued at anything between $43 billion and $77 billion, potentially leading to a huge discrepancy between their costs and the sum raised in a sale.
In recent weeks, executives from both Verizon and Ericsson highlighted the importance of C-Band to US 5G rollouts, with Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm flagging it as “critical” in a conversation with President Donald Trump.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back