In FCC comments, NPR backs industry plan for reallocating satellite spectrum

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NPR is backing a proposal by satellite operators to reallocate a portion of spectrum the network now uses to transmit programming to stations.

The operators’ proposal, announced this month, “offers the best means of achieving the FCC’s goals” of opening up the C-band spectrum for wireless broadband services while protecting public radio and other media outlets that transmit programming on satellites that use the spectrum, NPR said in comments filed Monday with the FCC.

The proposal by the consortium of four satellite operators, titled the C-Band Alliance, would free up spectrum by consolidating usage of the band. The consortium would compensate users for any costs with proceeds from the sale of cleared frequencies to wireless operators. The C-Band Alliance also contends that it would clear the spectrum more easily and efficiently than the FCC would.

In its comments, NPR said that “the C-Band Alliance’s market-based proposal, subject to reasonable and appropriate conditions, offers a workable, if yet unproven option for managing the competing demands of mobile wireless operators and current users of C-band spectrum, including the public radio system.”

The FCC launched an inquiry last year seeking comment on how C-band spectrum could be opened to wireless companies such as T-Mobile and Verizon. NPR and other broadcasters who use the spectrum have fought the proposal. The network has told the FCC that changing use of the spectrum could “threaten the public’s access to public radio station broadcasts.”

The C-Band Alliance has proposed clearing 200 MHz of the band by consolidating users into the remaining 300 MHz of the band. NPR said that if the FCC adopts the alliance’s approach, it should limit the reallocation to 200 MHz and “provide opportunity for public comment and Commission oversight through the transition process and beyond.”

“While NPR conditionally supports the C-Band Alliance’s proposal to institute a flexible, market-based approach to reallocating a limited amount of C-band spectrum for new use, it urges the Commission to require notice and an opportunity for comment before it approves the reallocation of any more than the lower 200 MHz of the C-band spectrum,” NPR added.

NPR said its comments were made on behalf of the public radio system, including its member stations, American Public Media and Public Radio International.

The FCC will be able to determine the C-band’s future after Nov. 27, when reply comments are due.

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