C-Band and Wireless Broadband

C-Band and Wireless Broadband

The C-band spectrum consists of 3.7 to 4.2 GHz and was previously used for satellite cable, broadcast network programming, television, and radio stations. The FCC voted to open C-Band for terrestrial wireless broadband nearly a year ago and since then it has still been the target of debate.

In 2018 the FCC had unanimously voted to open C-Band to assist in closing the digital divide and attaining 5g status. However, opening the spectrum to wireless broadband had also sparked a debate on sharing protocol with the previous uses. The new addition caused an examination of the following four factors:

  1. Collecting the information from cable and broadcast operators to help repurpose the frequency.
  2. Suggesting assigning a mobile allocation to the entirety of the 500 MHz which was used for nonexclusive satellite utilization.
  3. Discussing allowing a portion of the spectrum to be for shared fixed use.
  4. Discussing the service and technical rules of opening the C-band.

Once the opening of the C-Band was approved it had sparked hope for the rural communities.

Wireless Broadband in Rural America

Unfortunately, rural America is still connectively challenged when it comes to high-speed internet. The race towards 5g brings hope to all corner of the U.S. and its ability to tap into wireless broadband, but the journey is a long one. To arrive at 5g the telecom infrastructure will need to have 800,000 small cell antennas erected nationwide for adequate coverage. This is three-times our current infrastructure and seems almost unjustifiable to most investors.

However, the FCC is returning to the C-Band debate of 2018 and how it should be portioned out to benefit all Americans, even those in rural areas. The C-Band spectrum has the potential to alleviate the need and cost of terrestrial fiber routes, which would save copious amounts of time and money in the long run. Splitting the spectrum is not as simple as it may seem. The spectrum has 500 MHz but the majority of which is reserved for avoiding any interference with the satellites in outer space and their communication with earth stations.

The C-Band Discussion

The debate remains around how much of the spectrum should actually be reserved for satellite communication. According to one news site, 300 MHz is more than adequate for the shared use involving satellite services, which would free up 200 MHz to auction off for wireless broadband services. This division should be enough to protect earth stations from interference, allow abundant wireless connectivity, and be profitable for the economy. However, there is more to the debate then meets the eye. On June 5, 2019, the Technology Policy Institute held a panel to discuss the C-Band conundrum. All the individuals involved can agree that the spectrum needs to be opened for wireless broadband, but just how to open it and just how much to make available to the public has still not been agreed upon.

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Author: Valerie Stephen

Valerie Stephen
valeriestephen@geo-tel.com