Intelsat procures new satellites to keep up with US C-Band 5G deployment

The US government is in the process of freeing up spectrum in the 3.7 GHz - 4.2 GHz bands for use by mobile network operators in their 5G networks
Satellite, INTELSAT, Telecoms, 5G, Spectrum

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Intelsat has announced that it has contracted for new satellites with US manufacturers, in order to meet the accelerated C-band spectrum clearing timelines established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year.

Intelsat is the operator of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network. The company has entered into two new agreements; one with Maxar Technologies to build and deliver four satellites, and another with Northrop Grumman to build and deliver two satellites. Intelsat is currently in negotiations with manufacturers for a seventh satellite required to support its C-band transition.

The US government has implemented a plan to free up so called C-band spectrum for use by mobile network operators for their 5G network rollouts. However, the spectrum licences are currently owned by satellite TV companies in the US. The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a reallocation of those companies’ spectrum holdings to free up spectrum for use for 5G.  

“Quickly clearing 300 megahertz of the U.S. C-band spectrum to make way for 5G wireless applications is a complex task, layered with a significant number of highly interdependent technical activities, including building and launching multiple new satellites designed to operate at the higher portion of the band,” said Intelsat chief services officer Mike DeMarco.

“Intelsat looks forward to collaborating with our longstanding partners Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman on these critical builds, essential to clearing portions of the C-band spectrum and cementing America’s leadership in 5G.”

Later this week, Intelsat plans to file its full C-band spectrum transition plan with the FCC in accordance with the FCC’s revised timeline. The plan will provide additional manufacturing and launch details for new satellites and outline the steps that Intelsat will take to reconfigure its terrestrial-based infrastructure and to ensure a successful transition.

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