ACA Connects: America’s Communications Association has asked the FCC to stay the August 31 deadline for earth station owners to make a choice about the future of their operations as the commission gets set to auction a portion of the C-band spectrum in which the earth stations operate. C-Band spectrum is considered ideal for 5G use, hence the push for C-band relocation.
Earth station owners will be compensated based on two different options for clearing the portion of the band targeted for the 5G auction. ACA Connects expressed concern that the FCC’s calculations for one of the C-band relocation options are inaccurate and is asking for the stay to enable the FCC to redo those calculations.
ACA Connects represents smaller cable and broadband companies that, according to the association, own over half of all earth stations used by multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs). MVPDs include cable companies as well as telcos that offer cable-like video services.
The earth stations number in the thousands and are used to capture video content delivered via satellite for distribution to end subscribers.
C-Band Relocation Options
The C-band relocation options are to migrate thousands of earth stations to other portions of the band or to receive a lump-sum payment that can be used toward converting to alternative technologies such as fiber. ACA Connects’ concerns relate to the FCC’s decision not to include the cost of integrated receiver/decoders (IRDs) in the lump-sum payment option.
According to ACA Connects, if appropriate compensation were provided for the second option, it would enable the earth station owners to build “a predominantly future-proof, fiber-based, video distribution network.”
The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s omission of IRD costs from the lump sum calculation defied commission directives, ACA Connects says. ACA Connects also argues that the determination of the lump sum amount was “arbitrary and capricious.”
The association states, for example, that the bureau met with various stakeholders, but those meetings were confidential and excluded ACA Connects, even though the association represents more than 90% of all MVPDs and over half of all MVPD earth stations.
ACA Connects members “face irreparable harm if the August 31 deadline is not stayed,” the association argued in a press release about C-band relocation concerns. “Earth stations must make an irrevocable election whether to accept the lump sum by August 31. Thus, if the commission does not stay the deadline (or overturn the bureau’s determination before the deadline), MVPDs will be forced to make an election based on the bureau’s existing lump sum amount. Because that amount improperly excluded significant costs, many MVPDs that would otherwise elect the lump sum – which the commission intended them to do where that would be the ‘more efficient option’ – will be forced to elect to relocate all of their earth stations instead.”
If the FCC declines to issue the requested stay, ACA Connects has asked the commission to issue a limited 14-day stay of the lump sum election deadline to give ACA Connects time to seek a stay from the court of appeals.