Intelsat files C-band spectrum transition plan with FCC to accelerate America’s 5G buildout


Intelsat, operator of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network, today filed its C-band spectrum transition plan with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

“Intelsat is filing its comprehensive transition plan after having spent more than two years proactively working with the FCC, our customers, industry stakeholders, vendors and other satellite operators to create a clear path for meeting the FCC’s accelerated clearing deadlines and ensuring the U.S. maintains its leadership in 5G,” said Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco. “With our detailed plan finalized and our supply chain engaged, Intelsat looks forward to supporting the FCC in successfully transitioning the C-band spectrum and accelerating America’s path to 5G – all while safeguarding the high-quality media broadcast services on which more than 100 million American households rely.”

Earlier this week, Intelsat announced that it has selected U.S. manufacturers, Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman, to design and manufacture satellites required to transition the company’s high-quality media distribution and contribution services – uninterrupted – from the 3.7 to 4.0 gigahertz (GHz) portion of the C-band to the 4.0 to 4.2 GHz portion of the band.

In addition to articulating the company’s strategy to procure, design, build and launch seven satellites, Intelsat’s transition plan details how the company will:

  • Migrate 80-plus broadcast, cable, radio, religious and government customers to the upper 200 megahertz (MHz) of the C-band, including the corresponding changes required at 3,500 cable head-ends and 13,500 affiliate earth stations

  • Install 60,000 5G signal-blocking filters across the U.S. in order to mitigate post-transition interference

  • Consolidate multiple telemetry, tracking and control (TT&C)/Gateway antennas into two locations on the East and West Coasts of the U.S.

  • Contract with U.S.-based companies USSI Global, WESCO, ATCi and Convergent to perform aspects of the transition and installation work required on the ground at thousands of earth stations and cable television head-ends throughout the U.S.

Intelsat and other satellite operators participating in the FCC’s accelerated C-band clearing plan are responsible for incurring the upfront costs associated with clearing 300 MHz of the spectrum and moving their existing services to the upper portion of the band. Intelsat estimates these upfront investments will cost the company $1.6 to $1.7 billion.

In addition to receiving reimbursement for reasonable upfront costs associated with clearing the spectrum and transitioning incumbent services to the upper portion of the band, Intelsat is eligible to receive up to $4.87 billion in incentive payments for successfully meeting the Commission’s accelerated deadlines of clearing 120 MHz of spectrum (3.7 to 3.82 GHz) by December 5, 2021, and the remaining 180 MHz (3.82 to 4.0 GHz) by December 5, 2023. Reimbursements will be funded by the winning bidders of the FCC’s public C-band auction, in line with the FCC’s emerging technologies framework.

Intelsat was launched with President John F. Kennedy’s signing of the U.S. Satellite Communications Act into law in 1962. With administrative headquarters in McLean, Virginia, 24/7 satellite operations centers in California and Virginia, a 24/7 network operations center in Georgia, and staffed teleport locations in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii and Maryland, Intelsat employs over 1,000 Americans across 11 states. Over 100 million U.S. households rely on Intelsat for their TV service, and Intelsat is the largest provider of satellite communications services to the U.S. military. Last month, Intelsat launched a new managed service for U.S. mobile operators that will help expand 4G and 5G broadband coverage to rural America.

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