Satellite service provider SES laid out plans to invest $1.6 billion in new kit, as part of a commitment to free up C-Band (3.7GHz to 4.2GHz) spectrum for 5G on an accelerated timetable set by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
SES said in a press release the funds will go toward the procurement and launch of new satellites and other equipment and services, with the bulk of the money expected to be awarded to US suppliers.
The move comes as the FCC prepares to auction 280 MHz of C-Band spectrum in December, and could help ensure satellite service providers including SES receive incentive payments the agency is dangling in an effort to ensure a speedy repack.
Under the FCC’s C-Band reallocation plan, satellite companies collectively stand to receive up to $9.7 billion in incentive payments if they meet certain spectrum clearing deadlines.
However, the FCC said it will only dole out those funds if “80 per cent of accelerated relocation payments” on offer are accepted, effectively requiring both SES and fellow satellite provider Intelsat to agree to its plan.
Of the $9.7 billion in incentive payments, Intelsat and SES are eligible to receive up to $4.87 and $3.97 billion, respectively. The remaining $866.5 million is set to be split between providers Eutelsat, Telesat and Star One.
Telesat already signed on to the plan ahead of a 29 May commitment deadline.
When Intelsat filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, CEO Stephen Spengler declared the company intended “to move forward with the accelerated clearing of C-band spectrum”, but it has yet to make a formal commitment.