1. Why is 5G important?
The next generation of mobile communications technology, 5G, will bring 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. 5G will be able to support millions of devices at ultrafast speeds and transform the lives of people by connecting them faster and better than ever before with extended mobile broadband reach. Industries on 5G networks will be able to quickly compile and compute data and become more efficient and effective in their daily operations. In the healthcare and security sector, mission-critical services will be carried out in real-time response time.
2. How does C-band spectrum relate to 5G?
In order for 5G to be deployed, U.S. wireless operators need access to the C-band, a band of spectrum with the right balance of coverage and capacity to facilitate 5G adoption throughout urban, suburban, and rural America. However, the C-band is 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.
3. 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) as early as December 2023, with a portion of that spectrum becoming available as early as December 2021. To deliver on the clearing milestones set out in the FCC’s Order, SES will procure and launch satellites to provide necessary capacity for our existing customers and begin filtering tens of thousands of earth station antennas throughout the United States to prevent interference from new 5G services.
4. Will SES be hiring American companies to support the C-band clearing and transition?
Yes. SES is helping put America to work by procuring from businesses across the U.S. the services and equipment needed for the C-band transition. SES will make substantial investments with U.S. companies in the transition process. SES is already working with a number of small American businesses, including Montana-based Superior Satellite Engineers, Arizona-based ATCi, and Michigan-based Viking SatCom. SES will shortly publish an RFP for installation and implementation support from U.S. companies. These companies will hire U.S.-based filter and antenna equipment installers, creating additional opportunities for employment throughout the U.S.
5. Since the FCC’s Order was announced, what has SES been doing in order to meet the deadlines?
SES has a team of engineers, operations specialists and technicians dedicated to clearing the identified spectrum within the FCC’s accelerated timelines. This team is working diligently to develop the implementation plan that will be submitted in June 2020 and to put all of the necessary infrastructure in place to get the clearing done quickly and smoothly.
6. Will COVID-19 impair SES’s ability to meet the accelerated clearing deadlines?
SES is designing its clearing process to account for the challenges of the pandemic and does not foresee delays in its efforts to meet the 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. SES remains committed to meeting the clearing milestones set out in the Order.