UPDATE FCC officials were celebrating a federal court ruling Tuesday that denied an attempt to stop the agency’s C-band auction. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a motion from small satellite companies to stay the Commission’s C-band order.
The ruling means the Commission can go ahead with the auction. “All systems go for the C-Band auction to begin on December 8. Great news for American consumers and U.S. leadership in 5G!” tweeted FCC Chief of Staff Matthew Berry.
The agency plans to re-purpose 200 MHz of the 500 MHz C-band for wireless use and move incumbent satellite program providers (and earth stations) from the lower to the upper portion of the band. It voted in late February to allow incentivized C-band auction payments to satellite companies to speed the band clearing.
At the time, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency anticipated legal challenges to the decision and felt the Commission was on solid legal ground, Inside Towers reported.
The FCC last week denied the same motion for a stay from smaller satellite operators ABS Global Ltd., Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales S.A., Hispamar Satélites S.A., and Hispasat S.A. They are foreign-owned and not eligible for relocation and accelerated relocation payments because they have no existing operations to clear in the C-band, and they don’t provide services to any incumbent earth stations in the contiguous United States, according to the FCC.
The satellite operators argued they’d be irreparably harmed by the agency’s plan. The federal appeals court agreed with the FCC, and denied their motion to pause the auction.
Pai said Tuesday: “I am very pleased that the D.C. Circuit rejected this attempt by small satellite operators with no U.S. operations in the C-band to delay our efforts to repurpose critical mid-band spectrum. The FCC will continue to defend our order on the merits, and I look forward to our C-band auction beginning on December 8.”