C-Band Satellites in the US: Delivering TV and Data Transmissions Services to Millions of Americans
For decades, satellite operators in the US have been using C-band spectrum to enable US broadcasters and programmers to provide TV and radio to millions of American homes, and to deliver other critical data transmission services.
With the deployment of 5G networks, US wireless operators too need access to part of the C-band to provide 5G services. To ensure a win-win situation, the FCC has worked with satellite operators to develop a plan to clear 280 MHz of C-band spectrum for 5G mobile services (plus a 20-MHz guard band) so that TV and radio services, critical data transmission services and 5G networks can be delivered simultaneously.
To meet the FCC’s deadline of clearing C-band spectrum across the US, SES ordered six satellites to provide the necessary capacity for our existing customers. Five satellites -- SES-22, SES-20, SES-21, SES-18 and SES-19 -- were successfully launched between June 2022 and March 2023 to enable the broadcast delivery of digital television to nearly 120 million TV homes as well as provide critical data services. The satellites were primarily designed and intended to carry the existing C-band services SES offered in the contiguous US (CONUS) that transitioned from the lower 300 MHz to the upper 200 MHz of C-band spectrum.
With those five satellites, SES was able to complete our C-band clearing and transition activities ahead of schedule and we received the FCC’s validation of our work on 10 August 2023.
Satellite and Launch Providers
Thales Alenia Space delivered two satellites – SES-22 and SES-23. SES-22 was launched by SpaceX to 135 degrees West on 29 June 2022, and started operations in early August 2022. SpaceX is a trusted partner who has launched seven SES satellites in the last 10 years. SES-23 served as a contingency to ensure our ability to migrate and provide continuous services throughout the transition, in the unlikely case we encountered technical difficulties related to our satellites.
The Boeing Company delivered a pair of highly-efficient all-electric 702SP satellites – SES-20 and SES-21 – that were manufactured and assembled in Los Angeles, California. The two satellites were successfully launched by United Launch Alliance, a staple of the American launch industry with more than 135 consecutive launches.
Northrop Grumman delivered two flight-proven GeoStar-3 satellites – SES-18 and SES-19 – that were assembled and tested in Dulles, Virginia. These satellites were launched by SpaceX on 17 March 2023.
SES-18 and SES-19 Media Gallery
Check out how SES-18 and SES-19 are getting ready for launch.
SES-20 and SES-21 Media Gallery
Follow the journey of SES-20 and SES-21.
SES-22 Media Gallery
See how SES-22 was built, tested and launched.