Bipartisan Senators Share C-Band Concerns With FCC


Kansas Republican Jerry Moran and New Mexico Democrat Tom Udall on Tuesday sent a two-page letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressing concerns regarding the Commission’s NPRM examining expanded operations in the C-band, a chunk of spectrum used by content producers every day to delver programming to radio and TV stations. 

In the letter, Moran and Udall at first commend Pai and the Commission for “continuing to pursue policies enhancing the availability of high-speed broadband to our constituents, especially those in rural communities.”

They add, “The deployment of 5G mobile wireless technology in the United States is poised to contribute significant economic growth, job creation, and technological competitiveness on the global scale. To that end, the FCC’s spectrum management policies promoting commercial wireless broadband are critical to efficiently and effectively improving overall broadband access in rural America.”

As such, Moran and Udall argue, “As the FCC considers repurposing spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless broadband, it must ensure that the needs of existing users and the millions of consumers who enjoy the content delivery services that rely on those same spectrum bands can continue to be met.”

The letter addresses the FCC’s Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted July 12 at its monthly Open Meeting to consider permitting new commercial wireless services and shared use in the 3.7 -4.2 GHz band, also known as the “C-band.” This band is currently licensed to companies “that deliver high-quality content for a number of stakeholders including television and cable programming.”

Radio broadcasters are also in the cross hairs, and count on this spectrum to connect local public and commercial stations to national networks and syndicated programming, the legislators explain.

“As part of its proceeding, the FCC must consider whether sufficient spectrum will remain
available to accommodate today’s C-band services, whether other transmission capacity could provide an equally reliable, available, affordable, and resilient alternative, whether new uses of the band could result in harmful interference to existing services, and how to reimburse C-band earth station operators for costs incurred. We appreciate the attention that the agency is already dedicating to these important considerations and ask for these efforts to continue.”

Further, “Due to the C-band operations’ extreme sensitivity and vulnerability to terrestrial interference, the FCC should consider the potential for harmful interference to incumbent operations that remain in the band while tailoring technical rules as necessary to avoid such interference,” they say. “In the interest of a balanced approach, we urge the FCC to consider the extensive use and significant investment already made in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band by satellite licensees and their content-providing customers, while accounting for the unique attributes of the spectrum that currently provide quality services, including to rural communities.”

The letter was immediately greeted with joint applause from the American Cable Association, the NAB, the NCTA and NPR. 

They said, “NAB, NCTA, ACA and NPR thank Senators Moran and Udall for their leadership on this critical issue of spectrum management, recognizing the importance of protecting existing C-band users as Congress and the FCC consider changes to the C-Band.”

The groups add that Moran and Udall “correctly recognize that more than 100 million Americans rely on C-band spectrum to receive the most popular news, entertainment and sports content on TV and radio. As new bands of airwaves for wireless services are considered, it is critically important that any changes to the C-Band spectrum fully protect incumbent users and consumers from harmful interference and service loss or interruptions.”