CCA, Charter, ACA present alternative for C-band

The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), Charter Communications and ACA Connects – America’s Communications Association have filed a proposal with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for repurposing at least 370 megahertz of the C-band spectrum for 5G.

Calling the proposal a “win-win” for consumers, rural America, incumbent users of the C-band, the satellite industry and future wireless users, the groups say they represent a broad set of interests that include both incumbent users of the spectrum and prospective providers of 5G wireless services. 

“Today’s proposal marks the first time that incumbents and prospective new licensees have come together on an industry-designed plan for repurposing the C-band, which is critically important to winning the global race to 5G,” they said in a statement.

Positioned as an alternative to the C-Band Alliance (CBA) proposal, the proposal pushed by the CCA calls for clearing the C-band, which would be facilitated by either a traditional FCC auction or an incentive auction. Both options are discussed in the filing with the FCC (PDF).

“Our proposal would refarm for terrestrial wireless use a minimum of 370 megahertz. This amount could increase after more information is obtained about the residual needs for satellite service in the band,” the filing states.

The proponents of this latest plan say it makes whole all incumbents—including the satellite industry, its customers, and earth station users—and provides all of these stakeholders with long-term certain protection for existing services. It also contributes to the goal of building fiber to provide high-speed broadband in unserved or underserved rural areas and ensures a transparent FCC-led auction.

“Today’s joint filing is significant progress and demonstrates industry’s willingness to work together to ensure the repurposing of the C-Band spectrum is done right,” said CCA President and CEO Steve Berry in the press release. “Mid-band spectrum provides real opportunities for competitive carriers to enhance and expand their networks, especially in rural areas, and CCA strongly encourages the FCC to make the maximum amount of spectrum available for the benefit of consumers and the industry.”

RELATED: C-band lands starring role in WIN 5G Act

The FCC is taking comments about what should be done with the C-band, which at one point was thought of as one of the more promising places to find midband spectrum for 5G in the U.S. Satellite companies currently using the band formed the CBA and are lobbying for the ability to auction off part of the band. Their plan involves only 200 MHz in the 500 MHz band.

Michael Calabrese, director, Wireless Future Program at Open Technology Institute at New America, said the industry proposal for a public auction of C-band should be welcomed by the FCC since, unlike CBA’s proposal for a private auction, it is within the commission’s legal authority and could result in a more transparent and fair auction process.

“Requiring winning bidders to compensate incumbent users for the cost of clearing the lower portion of the band, as the cable industry proposes, is entirely consistent with FCC precedent and the Communications Act, whereas a private auction windfall to foreign satellite operators surely is not,” Calabrese said in a statement.