Satellite giant Intelsat says it is working with Intel and is prepared – for cash – to cede some of its allocated C-band spectrum for use by wireless operators. The move is expected to financially benefit Intelsat and potentially other satellite players. The move sees Intelsat and Intel proposing to the USA’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the 3700-4200 MHz band, currently the sole preserve of satellite, be accessible by wireless operators and thus “help accelerate the introduction of 5G services, benefitting American consumers”. Intelsat and Intel have proposed a market-based approach that will make available the necessary radio spectrum beginning approximately one-to-three years following FCC adoption – far faster than if the FCC had to impose new regulations impacting a wide variety of communications companies that include incumbent satellite and fixed terrestrial operators, mobile network providers and television broadcasters,” says Intelsat. “Terrestrial mobile companies or other interested parties will be given the opportunity to use the spectrum they need by reaching commercial agreements with the current holders of the spectrum rights, satellite licensees, such as Intelsat.”
Intelsat explains why this is necessary, saying: “Facilitating access to mobile broadband spectrum is one of the great public policy challenges facing the FCC. C-band spectrum in 3700-4200 MHz, is currently used by satellite operators to enable all of the major broadcasters and media companies to deliver television content to millions of viewers across the United States. It is also used for telecommunications infrastructure, certain governmental aeronautical applications and private data networks in the United States.” “Intelsat believes that joint use in the same frequency by both mobile and satellite services involves complex technical issues that could result in impairment of the satellite signals and unless carefully coordinated, this could mean interruptions to the TV broadcasts enjoyed by hundreds of millions of Americans.” “The FCC has already indicated that it would like for new spectrum to be enabled to support mobile services. However, based on past experience of new spectrum rulings which took over a decade, it could take many years for the FCC to bring about a reallocation of spectrum because it will be opposed and litigated by those whose commercial interests could be damaged. Our market-based proposal provides an accelerated solution.” This move helps explain the extremely positive share price movements for Intelsat these past weeks.