Bipartisan C-Band Letter Largely Benign, but Shows C-Band Is on Congress' Radar
Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Tom Udall (D-NM) sent a letter on November 13 to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai regarding the ongoing Cband proceeding. In the letter, the Senators urge the Commission to ensure that C-band end-users, such as TV broadcasters, are protected against any interruption of service and are fairly compensated for costs associated with the clearing process. In our view, this letter does not portend a bipartisan effort in Congress to derail the market-based approach we expect the FCC to adopt out of concerns over a windfall; the letter made no mention of windfalls and generally commends the FCC on its concerns for end-users to-date. However, the fact that the Senators spoke out at all suggests to us the issue is now on Congress' radar. As we noted in our August 20 report, one of the risks to the market-based proposal is rural broadcasters working to make the proposal a political lightning rod for Congress. Given this, we will be keeping an eye on Congress for any new developments. Our core thesis remains unchanged: we expect the FCC to release a final order in mid-2019 allowing C-band operators to negotiate private-market deals to clear 200 MHz of C-band spectrum over the next three years, and a total of 300 MHz over the next seven to eight years. For more detailed analysis of the C-band proceedings, please see our July 11, August 20, October 10, and November 2 reports.