The assignment phase of the C-band auction is officially over, marking an end to what has been noted to be the highest-grossing spectrum auction in FCC history. After 97 rounds in the nation’s top 46 markets back in January, a grand total of $80.92 billion in gross bids was raised.
Now the real work begins. Broadcasters in the major markets who registered their antennas with the FCC, but chose to opt-out of the all-expenses-paid Mid-band spectrum repack, must come up with an effective plan to tackle the C-band transition themselves.
No one understands the possible pitfalls that await broadcasters attempting to navigate the C-band transition better than Team LinkUp. (For those of you who believe the only challenge is to find the time to install a 5G filter, think again.)
We have monitored, then analyzed, the FCC’s ambitious transition plan. In 2021, ALL C-band users in the top 46 markets must have their first of a two-step filter installation complete.
And that’s just the beginning.
To be honest, comprehending the FCC’s requirements for the broadcast community has been challenging — each filing has been big on ambition and short on details.
Because the C-band repack is moving at warp speed, transition and installation details have often been glossed over, leading to confusion and, ultimately, assumptions within the broadcast community about what exactly is required of us.
For three years we’ve been in the thick of things, trying to read the tea leaves in an attempt to understand the FCC’s intentions when it comes to co-sharing. We’ve dug deep into this murky subject to find the answers that we think are needed to complete the 5G transition correctly.
If your goal is to successfully transition your C-band station or network according to the FCC’s standards, here are four essential points that you should never ignore:
A complete evaluation of the health and performance of your antenna
Before you even think about installing a 5G filter, take the time to complete a thorough checkup. Will the antenna need to be repointed? Can it be repointed? (With antennas that are decades-old, deterioration is often an issue.) Are you prepared to install a new antenna, if necessary?
Purchasing (and installing) an authentic 5G filter
Authentic 5G filters are uniquely designed to mitigate 5G’s overwhelming signal. Because of this, there are less than a handful of vendors who are producing this filter according to SES and Intelsat’s specifications – specifications required by the FCC.
The clock is ticking. Keep an eye on the timeline
When it comes to the issue of 5G, the FCC has been more than clear about its intentions to stay the course. Neither a world-wide pandemic nor a mandated federal office shutdown has delayed the FCC’s schedule for completing Phase One of the C-band repack. Red filters must be installed and operational by the end of the year. No exceptions.
The importance of documentation
At C-band sites directed by the FCC’s Clearinghouse through SES and Intelsat, specific and detailed documents are required to be completed by technicians when installing the filters.These documents include information regarding the performance and efficiency of the equipment being installed.
According to the FCC’s Clearinghouse, this documentation must be thorough and complete before parties involved will be reimbursed. There’s no time to dally, either. The technology companies working through SES and Intelsat are very aware that these reports may be audited by the FCC’s Clearinghouse at any time.
Knowing this, one can assume that — in case of any 5G interference — a detailed documentation should be part of everyone’s installation protocol.
No one is exempt from the FCC’s requirements, even those of you who chose to receive the lump sum. If ever your network experiences 5G interference, careful documentation regarding the operation of your 5G mitigation filter at the time of install may be the very thing that protects your programming from broadband.
Feeling confident in your C-band transition plan, or is it just one more very important thing on a checklist the length of your arm?
If you’re confident, you probably feel comfortable with the points listed above. You have a plan, a timetable, and you’ve done your homework. If that’s you, we applaud you.
But if you’re thinking that having someone take this off your plate sounds like a really, really good idea…
We have already begun the process assisting both our customers and the satellite owners with the installation of filters, upgrades, repoints – in some cases, the replacement of antennas – at downlink sites across the country.
It would be a privilege to serve your network, as well
Our seasoned crews of satellite technicians are tackling transition assignments in top 46 markets coast to coast. And, from all indications, 2021 is going to be a VERY busy year.
We’ll take you though the C-band transition process, beginning with a thorough virtual site survey to judge the health of your antenna, then ending with a peaked and operational antenna, new 5G filter, and the ever-important documentation that reassures all parties involved that your transition was done right.