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31 January, 2019

Spectrum Policy: C-Band FAQ - Why the Market-Based Approach Will Prevail

In the months since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on rebanding the C-band downlink for terrestrial mobile use, we have received a multitude of questions from investors seeking to understand how the process could be derailed given the potential for C-band operators to reap billions in windfall proceeds from private-market sales of the spectrum. While we detailed our views on the major risks to this proceeding in our August 20 report, we felt it would be helpful for investors to revisit the various issues and how they could play out. Our core thesis remains unchanged: we expect the FCC to issue a final order in mid-2019 allowing Cband operators to use the C-band Alliance (CBA) consortium to negotiate private-market deals to clear 200 MHz of spectrum in the next three years, and a total of 300 MHz over the next seven to eight years. Furthermore, we see few avenues for opponents of the market-based approach to stymie the process, much less upend it. In this note, we address some of the most common questions received from investors. For more detailed analysis of the C-band proceeding, please see our December 31, November 15, November 2, October 10, August 20, and July 11 reports.