The C-band transition is underway—are you ready?
SES’s vendors (ATCi, Pacific Cable, Products, Skyline, USSI Global, and Viking Satcom) are contacting registered Incumbent Earth Stations about filter installation—please respond to them immediately to ensure you maintain uninterrupted service. If you receive services from an SES satellite and have not yet been contacted by SES or our vendor partners, please email [email protected].
Do Incumbent Earth Station operators need to do anything to participate in the transition?
Incumbent Earth Station operators should refer to the FCC's most recent list of Incumbent Earth Station operators, which was last updated on October 8, 2021. If any of your information is incorrect, you must reach out to the FCC at [email protected] to get it corrected. All information about Incumbent Earth Stations needs to be 100% accurate to ensure the satellite operators can provide assistance most efficiently.
What is the current status of the C-band transition?
SES has completed all Phase I transitions and submitted its certification to the FCC on October 1, 2021. The FCC accepted SES’s Phase I certification on November 24, 2021.
5G, C-Band, and the United States
Why is 5G important, and how does C-band spectrum relate to 5G?
The next generation of mobile communications technology, 5G, will bring ultrafast, ground-breaking services to consumers and businesses and will be one of the most important drivers of innovation and economic growth over the next two decades, generating millions of new, high-paying jobs, and creating more efficient and effective businesses and public services.
In order for 5G to be deployed, U.S. wireless operators need access to the C-band, a band of spectrum currently used by satellite operators serving U.S. broadcasters and programmers to provide TV and radio to nearly 120 million American homes, as well as other critical data transmission services. Therefore, the FCC has worked with satellite operators to develop a plan to vacate a portion of this spectrum for use by 5G wireless operators while migrating current customers to a new solution.
How will C-band spectrum be cleared for 5G?
The FCC spent two years carefully developing a plan to clear 280 MHz of C-band spectrum for 5G mobile services (plus a 20-MHz guard band) in the contiguous United States (CONUS) and established accelerated clearing deadlines to ensure spectrum is cleared quickly. The transition will take place over two phases to make C-band spectrum available for 5G mobile services by December 2023, with a portion of that spectrum becoming available in certain markets as early as December 2021.
To deliver on the clearing milestones set out in the FCC’s Order, SES is procuring and launching satellites to provide necessary capacity for our existing customers and filtering tens of thousands of Earth Station antennas throughout the United States to prevent interference from new 5G services.
What is SES’s transition/implementation process?
SES’s transition plans filed with the FCC details how SES is going to migrate existing services. SES has 171 services that will be affected by the C-band repurposing: 108 services on domestic satellites and 63 services on international satellites. Below is an overview of the general implementation process. Please review the most recent transition plan for more details.
Every Incumbent Earth Station that did not elect a lump sum payment has been or will be contacted by an outreach vendor (ATCi, Pacific Cable Products, Skyline, USSI Global, and Viking Satcom) to confirm general Earth Station information. To ensure a smooth and efficient transition with minimal service disruptions, SES asks that all Incumbent Earth Station operators respond as soon as they are contacted by SES contractors.
During our outreach to customers, we will also determine the equipment required for the transition (e.g., antenna equipment, filters) depending on the needs of the site in accordance with SES’s customer transitions. This includes a determination if the site requires a new antenna to access a satellite that the site does not currently access. It also includes a determination of the number of antennas at the site accessing SES satellites, which will define the number of Passband Filters that must be installed to minimize interference from 3.7 GHz Service emissions. All “Red” filters have been purchased by SES and shipped out to the Incumbent Earth Station or to the SES-hired installer. All this is happening again in 2022 and 2023 for the “Blue” filters. Please see the filter section below for more information on red and blue filters.
The SES-hired installation teams will call Incumbent Earth Station operators to schedule a time window to install equipment, based on SES’s transition plan. Given their particular needs, we anticipate that remaining MVPDs will most likely be scheduled within the last 6 months of the Phase II clearing timeline. Most MVPDs will require access to several satellites and all programming transitions on those satellites will need to be moved above 4 GHz before any blue filters are installed. SES and Intelsat will coordinate the installation of filters at most MVPD sites to minimize the burden on the Incumbent Earth Station operator.
What are the accelerated clearing deadlines?
- “Phase I Deadline” – (December 5, 2021): The lower 120 MHz of spectrum must be cleared, and filters distributed to allow terrestrial service in 46 of the top 50 PEAs (Partial Economic Area, similar to a metropolitan area)
- “Phase II Deadline” – (December 5, 2023): Full contiguous U.S. (CONUS) clearing of the lower 300 MHz of spectrum for accelerated relocation payment
Has COVID-19 impaired SES’s ability to meet the accelerated clearing deadlines?
SES designed its clearing process to account for the challenges of the pandemic and does not anticipate delays in its continued efforts to meet the FCC Order deadlines. We are monitoring the effects of the pandemic on our suppliers and will provide an update to the FCC if there are any significant developments. If this affects our established schedules with customers, we will also contact those customers directly to reschedule. SES remains committed to meeting the clearing milestones set out in the FCC’s Order.
Is SES hiring American companies to support the C-band clearing and transition?
Yes. SES is investing in the U.S. economy by procuring from businesses across the U.S. the services and equipment needed for the C-band transition. SES has made substantial investments with U.S. companies in the transition process and will continue to do so. See our U.S. C-Band Transition Vendors page for more information.
Earth Station Operators
Can I continue receiving C-band services in the 3.7-4.0 GHz band after the December 5, 2025 deadline or accelerated clearing deadlines within CONUS at my own risk of interference from 3.7 GHz Services?
No. Regulations prohibit the transmission of C-band satellite services in the 3700-4000 MHz band for purpose of receipt within CONUS after the aforementioned deadlines.
How do I know if any of the services I receive in the C-band are moving?
For more details, please contact your programmer directly. Additionally, please refer to Appendix B and Appendix C of the SES transition plan.
How can an Earth Station operator confirm that its Earth Station is an Incumbent Earth Station?
An Earth Station operator should consult with the FCC to confirm if its Earth Station is an Incumbent Earth Station. The FCC posted a Public Notice on September 15, 2021 with its Incumbent Earth Station list. An Earth Station operator can also contact the FCC directly to determine if its Earth Station(s) are Incumbent Earth Stations.
What are the benefits of being an Incumbent Earth Station?
- Cost reimbursement: The FCC allows all reasonable and actual costs of transitioning an Incumbent Earth Station to be reimbursed through the Relocation Payment Reimbursement Clearinghouse. Unless an Incumbent Earth Station operator elected to take the lump sum, the satellite operators will bear most or all of the costs of an Earth Station transition.
- Protection from 3.7 GHz Service interference: The FCC has defined technical rules for 3.7 GHz Service licensees that include maximum power flux density (PFD) levels at Incumbent Earth Station locations. The combination of passband filters and maximum PFD levels reduce the risk of harmful interference from 3.7 GHz Service emissions into Incumbent Earth Stations. The requirements are set out in Sections 27.50, 27.53, and 27.55 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
If you have someone come and install the filters, will that tech also repeak the dish?
SES recognizes that some Incumbent Earth Stations may have unique characteristics or requirements, including antiquated and obsolete facilities, and will require a customized approach to transition every associated Incumbent Earth Station in a timely manner. When the installer visits the site, the installation technician will be equipped to address, if possible, a number of potential scenarios, including cases where a currently operating antenna receiving services from an SES satellite is not performing adequately when tested prior to any work that needs to be done, the inability to install a filter due to antenna mechanical issues, and antennas in hard-to-reach locations.
What if an Incumbent Earth Station Operator chooses to self-install?
SES anticipates that a number of Incumbent Earth Station operators will prefer to install equipment needed for the transition on their own at some or all of their sites. For such self-installations, SES requests the Incumbent Earth Station operator to notify SES in an email to [email protected] as soon as possible. SES may also contact these operators directly to confirm they will be self-installing.
The notice must specify if the Incumbent Earth Station operator plans to:
1. procure equipment on its own, and therefore will be seeking reimbursement directly through the Relocation Payment Clearinghouse rather than SES covering costs of the equipment.
2. request SES-provided equipment and provide in the notice to SES a detailed list of the equipment that is required for each physical Incumbent Earth Station identified in the FCC’s Final Incumbent Earth Station list receiving service from an SES satellite. SES will review these details to determine the eligibility for reimbursement of the equipment prior to ordering and shipping to the Incumbent Earth Station operator’s location.
For Incumbent Earth Station operators choosing to self-install equipment, SES will provide the timeline within which the dual illumination of all the affected services will occur and when the equipment must be installed. Upon receipt of the necessary equipment by the Incumbent Earth Station operator, SES will then provide the Incumbent Earth Station operator remote assistance via SES’s help desk as needed to support the installation.
Important: The Incumbent Earth Station operator must provide SES with a certification confirming that all the equipment has been installed and tested on all Incumbent Earth Stations receiving SES services at that location, and no operational issues have been identified. If an Incumbent Earth Station operator informs SES that it intends to self-install but fails to provide a certification of completion for that Incumbent Earth Station in a timely manner, then it still will be considered successfully completed and designated as such in SES’s quarterly report to the FCC.
Earth Station Antenna Registration
What will happen to unregistered Earth Stations during the transition?
SES has agreed to voluntarily install filters, if possible, on unregistered antennas collocated with Incumbent Earth Stations receiving services from an SES satellite at the same time we install filters on those collocated antennas.
SES will not install filters or take any responsibility for transitioning unregistered antennas that are not collocated with an Incumbent Earth Station pointed to an SES satellite.
If SES installs a filter on an unregistered antenna, does that change its standing with the FCC as an unregistered antenna?
SES’s decision to voluntarily install filters on unregistered antennas collocated with Incumbent Earth Stations receiving services from an SES satellite does not change the status of those unregistered antennas with respect to the FCC’s Order and therefore, they will not be eligible for interference protection from future licensed terrestrial services, unless they received a waiver from the FCC making them eligible for such interference protection.
Lump Sum Election
What does it mean that an Incumbent Earth Station can take a lump sum as determined by the FCC?
The FCC’s Order provides for Incumbent Earth Stations to elect a lump sum payment equal to the average, estimated reasonable transition costs of Earth Stations in the applicable class of Earth Stations, as determined by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB), in lieu of actual relocation costs. If an Incumbent Earth Station operator elected the lump sum payment, it is responsible for coordinating with the relevant space station operator as necessary and performing all relocation actions on its own, including switching to alternative transmission mechanisms such as fiber, and it will not receive further reimbursement for any costs exceeding the lump sum payment (except it will receive replacement IRDs necessitated by the transition). It must also coordinate with space station operators to avoid any disruption of video and radio programming. Elections had to be made by September 14, 2020 according to the process established by the FCC.
Can I use any filter advertised as a “5G filter”?
These are not recommended for antennas pointed to SES satellites. Frequencies used outside of the CONUS for 5G deployments in the C-band may be different than those used in CONUS; therefore, the filter specifications may not be adequate for CONUS. SES plans to provide Passband Filters – built and tested to SES specifications and meeting FCC requirements as set forth in the FCC’s Order – to all antennas at an Incumbent Earth Station location accessing SES satellites that have not opted for the lump sum payment.
How will the filter installations work, what is SES’s responsibility and what is the Incumbent Earth Station operator’s responsibility?
For Incumbent Earth Stations that did not elect the lump sum option, an SES-hired installation team will call each Incumbent Earth Station operator to update its records on the site and schedule a time window to install equipment (if applicable), based on SES’s transition plan. SES will be responsible for providing the equipment required for the transition and will manage its installation vendors. The Incumbent Earth Station operator is responsible for facilitating the installation process by providing any information required and coordinating with SES’s installation vendors. It is imperative that Earth Station Operators respond as soon as they are contacted by SES contractors.
Incumbent Earth Station operators that elected lump sum payment are responsible for performing their own transition work.
Will SES pay for the filters?
SES is hiring contractors to identify sites needing filters. For Incumbent Earth Stations that did not elect the lump sum option, SES will pay for these filters and then be reimbursed by the FCC.
Are the antennas and filters being provided for HITS customers regardless of opt-in/out of the lump sum reimbursement option?
If a HITS customer elects the FCC’s lump sum payment option, SES will not provide any equipment other than the IRD.
How do I know what type of 5G filter will be installed on my equipment?
SES’s installer will let you know which specific filter they will install., a “Red” filter or a “Blue” filter. “Red” filters block the lower 120 MHz (3700 – 3820 MHz). “Blue” filters block the full lower 300 MHz (3700 – 4000 MHz). A description of the filter specifications is available here.
We currently have filters on all LNB's for ground-based radar interference from an Air Force base. Will the new 5G filters reject interference from radar as well?
Yes, the new filters will reject both 5G signals and ground-based radar interference. See here for information on the filters.
SES has contracted well-known, reputable industry vendors to complete the installation work for those Incumbent Earth Stations that did not elect the FCC’s lump sum payment option. As per the most recent transition plan filed by SES with the FCC, SES has moved our radio affiliates on the satellite above 4 GHz. Therefore, radio affiliates taking radio services from SES satellites are now ready for the final filter installation (“Blue”).
- If your radio station did not take the FCC’s lump sum payment option, then someone from SES or one of SES’s installation vendors will be calling you over the next few months. Please respond so we can schedule your site.
- Our installation vendor will ask specific questions so that we will be able to assess the needs of your site and get results efficiently and effectively.
- For more information and questions, please contact our help desk at [email protected] or call 609-987-4400.
Will SES provide a timeline for when they will move radio affiliates on the satellite?
As per our most recent transition plan filed with the FCC, SES has already moved all radio services on the satellite above 4 GHz.
SES Transition Vendors for all Earth Stations
What should I do if my station has not heard from anyone?
Contact your network provider or the SES Helpline at 609-987-4400 or [email protected].
Who are SES’s transition vendors?
- Antenna Technology Communications (ATCi): SES’s primary vendor for outreach, filter installation, and Incumbent Earth Station Transition Services for Simulsat antennas. www.atci.com | 1-480-308-4540
- Skyline Communications: SES’s vendor for outreach, equipment installation, and Incumbent Earth Station Transition Services as well as Level 2 support. www.addsat.com | [email protected] | 1-317-535-1600
- Pacific Cable Products: SES’s vendor for outreach, equipment installation, and Incumbent Earth Station Transition Services. [email protected] | 1-619-470-1900
- USSI Global: SES’s primary vendor for outreach, filter installation, and Incumbent Earth Station Transition Services. www.ussiglobal.com | 1-800-444-8774
- Viking Satcom: SES’s equipment vendor, which warehouses and ships the antennas, filters, and LNBs needed to ensure that operators continue to receive downlinks. www.vikingsatcom.com/5g-transition-and-viking-satcom/ | 1-517-629-3000