On 19th November 2019, Ajit Pai, chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), announced a public auction of the C-band spectrum (about 500 MHz of bandwidth between 3.7 to 4.2 GHz) to facilitate the development of 5G. The C-Band, a swathe of satellite spectrum that has been historically used for fixed wireless services, plays a crucial role in broadcasting and live production of content such as news reporting and sports feeds.
According to the directive, the FCC has earmarked 280 MHz of bandwidth, instead of the originally expected 180 MHz, to be auctioned for mobile network operators. This leaves less than half of the spectrum, about 200 MHz, to be preserved for TV programming. Moreover, the FCC’s announcement of a USD 9.7 billion payout to satellite companies ahead of the 5G auction has introduced further confusion to an already uncertain landscape.