ACA Connects Submits C-Band Filing on ‘CBA Deficiencies’


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pro-MVPD lobbying group ACA Connects on Monday filed an ex parte letter in the FCC’s C-Band proceeding that outlines what it believes are “major deficiencies” of the satellite industry’s C-Band proposals, as embodied in the filings and public statements of the C-Band Alliance.

In the letter, ACA Connects believes that the CBA has intimated publicly that it is “aggressively” working to develop a plan to clear 300 MHz of the band, meaning that all C-Band users, including multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), would be compressed into the remaining 200 MHz.

“The promise to commit that showing to the record—a record that still does not contain one word about it—is meaningless,” ACA Connects believes. “The Commission has already indicated its inclination to act on this proceeding by the end of this year.”

In “rulemaking time,” this is the eleventh hour and fifty ninth minute for radical new ideas to be aired, ACA Connects adds. “That timeline would not leave adequate time for interested parties to evaluate and comment on any new CBA spectrum-clearing proposal that may be forthcoming,” it asserts.

Further, “CBA’s failure to submit its supposed new plan on a timely basis is far from the only problem with its evolving position,” it says. “CBA would need to explain away its prior claims that 200 MHz is the maximum amount of C-Band spectrum it could possibly refarm.  Making things worse still, CBA has had trouble proving to the satisfaction of C-Band users that it could repack them in 300 MHz without causing harm.  Yet now it seems intent on jumping from one incomplete task to an even more daunting project. Entertaining this succession of ever more challenging, and ever less complete, showings would be a paradigmatic instance of unreasoned decision-making.”

Second, the small MVPD lobbying group believes that the legal basis for CBA’s proposal to reallocate C-Band spectrum through private transactions between satellite companies and wireless carriers is deeply flawed.

“The Communications Act does not contemplate such a model; on the contrary, it requires that any grant of new licenses to use C-Band spectrum for 5G occur through competitive bidding under the auspices of the Commission, and that the proceeds flow to the U.S. Treasury,” it writes the Commission. “To be clear, the statute allows for incumbent licensees to be fairly compensated for transition costs and even to receive incentive payments, and the 5G Plus Plan includes both of these elements.  But the notion that satellite companies are entitled to reap the proceeds of a 5G auction, which could exceed $40 billion, is as legally unsound as it is contrary to the public interest.”

Lastly, ACA Connects asserts that the CBA is wrong that a private auction of C-Band spectrum orchestrated by CBA would be more efficient than a public auction.

“Contrary to its assertions, CBA is not uniquely situated to carry out a C-Band spectrum auction quickly after the issuance of an order,” it says. “The Commission is perfectly capable of matching or beating CBA in speed.  Among other things, the Commission has full authority to contract the development and implementation of an auction to a neutral private party, thus securing all the advantages of nimbleness that CBA vaguely claims for its quixotic private sale plan.”

— Adam R Jacobson contributed to this story from Boca Raton, Fla.