31/07/202010 Minutes

A Regional Perspective on C-Band – The Next Battleground?

The “hot topic” of the use of C-Band spectrum was greatly aided by having a moderator who is a senior regulator of a major satellite market of the Americas and panellists representing satellite operators prominent globally and regionally, along with two broadcasting/DTH/playout satellite users in Brazil and South Africa.  With these ingredients, we have all the vital ingedients to bring a C-band spectrum dialogue focused ITU Regions 1 and 2.

Indeed, rather than the 60 minutes of dialogue typical of webinars in the series, this discussion extended to 75 minutes. This fact represents the importance of the topic that is perhaps reflective of the fact that many countries have invested massively in ground infrastructure that relies on C-band satellites in many facets of their telecommunications infrastructure.

These investments and communications services are at risk whenever initiatives are launched to consider identifying portions of the C-band to other services. The objective of this webinar was to bring spectrum regulatory expertise to examine these risks by addressing a number of vital questions.

Watch this video to add to your understanding related to such issues as:

  • In an era of OTT video, mobile telephony, and the utilisation of other bands to support the explosive growth in data, what uses remain for C-Band?
  • For WRC-23, in your view what is the practical difference regarding what is being studied for Region 1 and Region 2 in the C-band.
  • Those countries looking to make C-band frequencies available for IMT are motivated to promote 5G. Is the promise of 5G something you believe in and, if so, when will the promise be realised?
  • Various technical solutions, in the form of specialised products, exist to block or prevent interference from 5G base stations in proximity to C-band ground terminals. What is the general industry view of the pros and cons of these technical approaches? Are they, in fact, real solutions? Does their use have any regulatory angles? What about the guard band needed to protect FSS from IMT?
  • In the context of a continuing digital divide perhaps we sometimes tend to focus too much only on data-type application related frequency band alternatives, overlooking the bedrock importance of C-band for broadcast TV as some peoples’ only access to any form of information. A most recent example was during the pandemic lockdown with schools closed, and in some countries/regions lessons over TV were the only way to reach all students. We really do need C-band, don’t we?
  • What metrics are being/can be used to determine/measure the (social?) value of C-band services, i.e., non-financial terms, to benchmark their importance to remote communities, particularly where no other communications or information services are available due to under investment, rain attenuation, etc?

For this and more, including questions from the live audience, check-out the recording here.



Q & A continued….

The following questions were posed during the webinar but there was insufficient time to respond during the one-hour duration of the event. Thank you to our audience for taking an active part by asking questions, and to our panellists for their time to answer them after the webinar ended…


1. In addition to the US, other Administrations have re-allocated C-Band spectrum from FSS to IMT. While I am sure you do not want more countries to do so, don’t you think more countries will follow the lead of the US and the other countries?

Ana Eliza Faria e Silva: I believe more countries will follow US in reducing the availability of C-band Spectrum for satellite applications. This is already a position taken from some administrations in all three regions.


2. Why does IMT/5G want c-band, when in much of the world mobile wireless does not use all the spectrum frequencies already allocated to it? It is a spectrum grab isn’t it?

Ana Eliza Faria e Silva: Sharing spectrum and expanding services is healthy when there is technical, economical and regulatory balance. The principle of No Harm to the broadcasting ecosystem and the public that it serves must be at the core of any regulatory considerations that will deal with the allocation of spectrum.

Adrián Herbera González: This is a good question, if they really need additional spectrum and it is not enough with all the spectrum they already have, even in the lower part of C band. In principle their interest for the C band is due to its attenuation characteristics, that according to IMT industry, it fits their deployment models.


3. At least now 5G is mainly a developed world interest. It will take away vital C-band from large parts of the developing world’s remote communities which see broadcast as a vital way to get information, education, etc. A future promise of 5G is no good if needed satellite spectrum is lost today.

Ana Eliza Faria e Silva: Agree. The large geographic area of several countries and the many isolated rural areas of Brasil make satellite DTH broadcasting the only viable way to reach all citizens, while providing vital public information and critical survival information in emergency situations.

Adrián Herbera González: Totally agree. Administrations must realize how important is the FSS C-band spectrum for the society and before taking the decision to allocate more C band spectrum to 5G, they must evaluate and weight the consequences and that.


4. As there is a fight over C-Band and considering the particularity of African countries in regard of the territorials size and rain issue, and in other side the particularities on Ku Band coverage, should this countries think and prepare their future with their own satellites to respond this challenge?

Ana Eliza Faria e Silva: The ownership of the satellite fleet makes no or little difference when the main concern is that 5G use in the C-Band downlink spectrum can cause significant harm or disruption to existing satellite users. As we see it in Brazil for the moment, it is not an issue of scarcity of C-Band satellites but the presence of interference affecting the existing users and the significant reduction of the C-band spectrum that may be licensed for satellite applications.

Adrián Herbera González: I do not think that this would be the solution, because the infrastructure, even if it is national, does not warranty the continuity of the C band FSS use. For example, one government can decide to build and launch a national C band satellite and the next government a few years later can decide that they do not want to use it anymore and allocate the band for 5G. What is important is to stablish regulatory stability. If the regulatory environment is stable and save, there will be investment in satellite infrastructure, there will be competence and all this will result in better services for the consumers (who are the final but most important part of the chain). Better services in terms of quality or price.


5. Some researchers are of the view that when rural communities gain access to broadband, they tends to use them more for entertainment purposes than educational. How true is that?

Ana Eliza Faria e Silva: My comment to this question is that a pervasive availability of broadband is still far from reality. Disrupting the existing information and entertainment content distribution will isolate several communities and impact millions households that relay on the free-to-air satellite distribution of broadcast content without providing a reliable and free alternative.

Adrián Herbera González: Use the technology for entertainment is also good, I do not see any problem with it. The question is that if once they have access to broadband, it significantly improves the access and the quality of education, comparing with when they didn’t have that access and I am sure it does.