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Home / NewTech / The FCC approves a $ 9.7 billion payment to release the satellite spectrum for 5G

The FCC approves a $ 9.7 billion payment to release the satellite spectrum for 5G



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The FCC has agreed to pay satellite companies billions of dollars to leave the C-band spectrum faster and make room for 5G services.


Nicolas Armer / Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Friday to promote a controversial plan to pay satellite companies to release critical mid-band spectra for the use of 5G . The agency voted 3-2 for approval of the auction and specific tendering procedures.

The Commission's Democrats agreed that more valuable mid-band spectrum would be needed to make 5G a reality in the US, but criticized the Republican-led agency for exceeding its authority in creating an auction that incentivized satellite providers in Granted billions for the premature shift of their spectrum.

The so-called C-Band auction is the FCC's latest move to release more spectrum for 5G . The agency was under pressure to provide more so-called mid-band spectrum, which will be crucial for the use of 5G, since signals can be transmitted over longer distances than the high-frequency spectrum for 5G that the FCC has already auctioned off.

The plan provides for FCC satellite companies to pay $ 3 to $ 5 billion in compensation for abandoning the C-band spectrum and switching to a different frequency so that radio waves can be auctioned. However, the most controversial part of the plan is the $ 9.7 billion that the FCC plans to pay satellite providers to accelerate their shift from their C-band spectrum.

Criticism

After the plan was announced earlier this month, several Democrats in Congress declined the incentive payments and warned that it would lead to litigation and delays in the introduction of 5G service. The FCC's Democrats, Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks, argued on Friday that the FCC had no authority to allocate so much of the proceeds to the disbursement of foreign satellite companies. Instead, the FCC is legally required to transfer this money to the US Treasury Department. They argued that the nearly $ 10 billion in auction proceeds could be better used to close the digital divide and promote emergency communications.

Rosenworcel and Starks in particular said that the FCC could not compensate satellite operators for the cost of moving their service to another part of the frequency band.

"We are forcing the winners of the C-Band auction to pay nearly $ 10 billion to incumbent satellite operators in addition to their moving costs," said Rosenworcel. "There is no indication of legal authority or precedent to allow this."

She said the FCC should wait for Congress to decide what accelerated payments to satellite providers should be made, if any. Some Congress members support laws to prevent payments to satellite providers.

Starks was also dissatisfied with the accelerated payment to satellite providers. He said the FCC had overstepped its authority by making payments to foreign satellite companies that "may not even stop business." Still, he said he was happy it was a public auction, not a private one, which was a suggestion from satellite providers.

Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, said it was time to launch the 5G mid-band spectrum. He also stole his democratic colleagues because of their criticism.

"There are some who argue that we should wait indefinitely," said Pai. "It is both amusing and astonishing that some who voice this criticism are the same people who have previously complained that the agency is not moving fast enough in the medium band spectrum."

A long and complicated process

Negotiations on how much spectrum satellite companies would have to give up and how they would change their use of the spectrum have been going on for months. Meanwhile, the cellular industry has pushed to reallocate this spectrum so that it can be used to build their 5G networks.

The C-band spectrum, which lies in the frequency range from 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz, is considered to be decisive for the use of 5G. Mobile operators need a mix of radio spectrum that, like the C-band spectrum, consists of a high-frequency spectrum, a low-band spectrum and a medium-band spectrum to provide the coverage and speed required to make 5G a reality.

C. -Band is also valuable because it's the same spectrum that several other countries around the world want to use for 5G. 23 countries, including Australia, Germany, Finland, South Korea and the UK, have already auctioned or assigned C-band frequencies for mobile 5G use.

The auction is expected to take place in December.


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