Asian operators do not like the Intelsat-Intel C-band sharing proposal, fearing it may be used as an example outside the United States. Credit: FCC

TOKYO — Intelsat’s proposed deal with Intel and other terrestrial broadband interests to share C-band spectrum in the United States came in for sharp criticism here Oct. 10 at the APSCC 2017 conference.

A panel of Asian fleet operators found none who would support the Intelsat move, which they said could destabilize these operators’ own C-band spectrum because of the power of example of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

These companies — ABS, APT Satellite Holdings, KT Sat, Measat and Sky Perfect JSat — did not address how the FCC’s proposal to allow terrestrial wireless to share C-band spectrum now reserved for satellite use differs from C-band-reallocation decisions already made in Europe, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere.

ABS Chief Executive Tom Choi, always outspoken, was particularly harsh, saying spectrum belongs to governments, not to companies, and Intelsat has no power to resell it.

But a spectrum-sublease deal in L-band in the United States was agreed to several years ago by London-based Inmarsat, which had access to L-band spectrum needed by U.S.-based Ligado. Ligado, desire going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has paid huge sums of cash to Inmarsat for access to L-band.

For Choi, Intelsat’s move is the thin end of a wedge that terrestrial broadband providers can use to seek higher-frequency spectrum now reserved for satellite use. He also said allow each country to slice up spectrum as it wished, irrespective of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agreements, will devastate the satellite industry, which depends on large geographic coverage areas in most cases.

“Why stop at C-band?” Choi said. “Why not go up to Ku- or Ka-, or Q-band? We will end up having to design satellites on a country-by-country basis.”

Intelsat has said it is acting now to head off a threatened FCC decision to force a sharing of the 3.7-4.2 GHz bands. Whether fleet operator SES, which like Intelsat has an FCC license to operate C-band networks in the United States, will accept the proposal is not clear.

Choi: NGSO operators should turn off their satellites over unlicensed territory

On a separate subject, Choi said ABS has been lobbying individual governments in Asia to use the 2019 ITU World Radiocommunication Conference to force operators of non-geostationary-orbit broadband satellite constellations to switch off their satellites as they pass over territory in which they do not have landing rights to avoid interfering with existing operations in these frequency bands.

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Peter B. de Selding
Peter B. de Selding
Peter de Selding is a Co-Founder and editor for He started SpaceIntelReport in 2017 after 26 years as the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews where he covered the commercial satellite, launch and the international space businesses. He is widely considered the preeminent reporter in the space industry and is a must read for space executives. Follow Peter @pbdes