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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai Announces Accelerated C-Band Transition

Elijah Labby

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Photo of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai in February 2018 by Gage Skidmore used with permission

June 1, 2020 — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced Monday that he instructed satellite operators to expedite the transition of C-band spectrum for 5G technologies.

The agency’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, which executes policy changes, received confirmations from each of the eligible operators, Eutelsat, Intelsat, SES, Star One and Telesat. These operators will free up 120 MHz of spectrum for 46 designated area in the initial phase, which ends December 5, 2021.

If the companies meet this deadline, they will have to clear the lower 120 Mhz in the other agency-designated areas and 180 MHz nationally by December 5, 2023.

If the companies meet both deadlines, the agency will give them up to $9.7 billion for relocation payments and reimbursements.

The hastened rollout of these technologies will accommodate the companies that successfully bid in December 2020's FCC C-band auction and are intended to speed up the process of widespread 5G.

Pai has long maintained that the agency's focus on 5G will benefit consumers by providing them with more widespread access to telehealth, e-learning and other applications, and expressed continued optimism at the prospect.

"This is a big day for American leadership in 5G and for American consumers and businesses," he said. "...This is a national priority because it means millions of jobs, billions of dollars in investment, innovation on our shores, and stronger economic growth."

If the companies had not agreed to the accelerated rollout timeline, they would have had until December 5, 2025 to free up the lower 300 MHz of the band.

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