The FCC’s International Bureau released a preliminary list of C-Band earth stations (those that operate in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band) in the contiguous U.S. that the Bureau has reviewed and said appear to qualify as “incumbent earth stations” which will be eligible for reimbursement for reasonable costs of changes to their facilities caused by the upcoming repacking of the C-Band. The C-Band will be partially reallocated for use by wireless carriers, requiring changes in many existing earth stations. The FCC’s notice about the preliminary list is available here, the preliminary list of incumbent C-band earth stations with explanatory notes in PDF format is available here, and the preliminary list of incumbent C-band earth stations as an Excel chart is available here. It is important that all broadcasters who have registered earth stations immediately review this list – as corrections need to be submitted to the FCC in just a week – by July 16, 2020.
The Bureau reviewed the status of all earth stations with active or pending licenses or registrations in the C-band. The incumbent licensees were those who were operating in 2018 and filed FCC registrations by that year and updated those registrations in 2019 (see our articles here and here). The list includes earth stations whose timely-filed applications are still pending, though they may ultimately not be eligible for reimbursement if the applications are not granted. The Bureau did not include earth stations whose applications it has dismissed as not meeting the criteria for incumbent status, even if the dismissal is not yet final under the Commission’s rules.
Corrections to the list need to be submitted to the FCC in writing by July 16, 2020, as well as any comments on the list and the FCC’s notice. If your earth station was left off the list, or the information is inaccurate, corrections need to be made. The FCC notice sets out very particular procedural requirements for the filings, which need to include the FCC file numbers of authorizations and reference to the Docket number of the FCC’s proceeding in which this notice was issued. No new earth stations or changes in the location of such stations will be accepted. The FCC is allowing minor corrections to site addresses and/or GPS coordinates of an existing earth station location or minor changes in operations (e.g., change in an emission designator or, importantly, an antenna no longer in use, or other information that would help inform the satellite operators’ transition plans).
The comments and corrections must be filed electronically in an FCC database and need to follow the specifics set out in the notice. Stations should consult with their engineers and lawyers to make sure that any required filings are made following the procedures set out in the Notice, by the July 16 deadline.