There has been an ongoing debate among telecommunication stakeholders on how best to make use of the C-band spectrum. At the heart of it is the C-band spectrum, which has predominantly been used by satellite operators but now is gaining increased importance as telecom companies prepare to roll out 5G networks. There have been a number of suggestions about how this can be done and one of the key arguments put forward by T-Mobile and members of the C-Band Alliance (CBA), such as Google and others. Their approach is oriented towards an open market style. Here are the details of this plan:
Open Market Auction
Under this plan, T-Mobile (as part of the C-Band Alliance) is requesting the Federal Communication Commission to put the C-Band frequencies on auction where telecommunication players are free to bid and buy. They base their proposal on the argument that the C-Band will be critical if the United States is going to lead the global arena in rolling out 5G services. They argue that availing these networks will increase the ability of Americans to access 5G services, including voice and data, at affordable prices They also argue that if the FCC adopts their proposal, they are able to start the rollout of 5G services as early as 18-36 months.
To help speed up the process, the alliance offers to fund and implement the necessary infrastructure to help roll out the 5G network via the C-Band spectrum. This includes setting up new satellites to help boost transmission facilities and ensure quality reception for all clients.
The alternative to this proposal is largely being pushed by cable and satellite operators who are currently the main users of the C-band. They argue that the plan put forward by the C-Band Alliance does not adequately protect them and they run the risk. They welcome the Alliance’s offer to invest in infrastructure to ensure that the quality of signal remains good, but they argue that the costs being suggested by the alliance are not realistic.
Under the banner of the American Communications Association, they argue that they should be compensated for any losses and interferences that this process may cause. There has been a debate about the money involved and a lobbyist for the C-Band Alliance claimed that cable operators have demanded $200,000 for every cable system. This was swiftly denied by the cable users.
At the center of this debate is the FCC, which will eventually have to give direction on the issue. To further complicate the matter, Congress has argued that it does not want the C-Band to fall in the hands of foreign entities. Caught in between this fierce debate, the FCC has opted for a cautious approach. They are asking everyone involved to give them time to make the best decision possible that gives users quality and adequate coverage.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has also indicated that they were trying to figure out how to go about it. According to him, the issue at hand was not whether the C-Band spectrum would be reallocated. As far as the FCC was concerned, this is given. Their focus at the moment is to figure out the best mechanism of doing this.