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November 07, 2018
Brattle Principal Authors Report on Maximizing the Value of the C-Band

Brattle Principal Coleman Bazelon has prepared a report, “Maximizing the Value of the C-Band: Comments on the FCC’s NPRM to Transition C-Band Spectrum to Terrestrial Uses,” commissioned by Intel, Intelsat, and SES. The report discusses the trade-offs policymakers need to evaluate in consolidating and moving C-Band satellite users to accommodate new potential uses, including 5G.

In the report, Dr. Bazelon discusses the market and regulatory failures that currently keep the C-Band from being used as efficiently as it can be as a starting point for evaluating the numerous proposed solutions to increase the C-Band’s efficiency. The market failures include overlapping rights to the band, creating a holdout problem where any one of a number of satellite licensees could prevent a value-increasing repurposing of the spectrum. The regulatory failures include significant informational challenges that a regulator would face in attempting to craft an optimal reallocation. Dr. Bazelon found that the Market-Based approach, where the FCC would authorize a Transition Facilitator to develop an optimal plan to repurpose spectrum taking into account the complexities of matching supply and demand by frequency and geography, addresses these market failures.

Allowing satellite operators to coordinate through a Transition Facilitator and negotiate with potential terrestrial wireless users overcomes the market failure by vesting in a single entity the ability to develop a transition plan for the band. It also addresses the regulatory failure by incentivizing the satellite carriers to develop the information needed to optimize a transition. Those carriers, working as the Transition Facilitator, know their own networks and business and have existing relationships with the earth stations who are their customers. He argues the Market-Based approach is preferable to the alternatives because it would create an incentive to implement the optimal solution as quickly and effectively as possible as a delay in transition will be very costly, both to the parties involved in the transition and to society.

The full report is available in the appendix of the below filing.