Eutelsat leaves C-Band Alliance as spectrum decision looms

Space

WASHINGTON — Eutelsat Communications has quit the C-Band Alliance, fracturing the group of global satellite operators as a regulatory decision on their spectrum plan nears. 

Paris-based Eutelsat did not say why it chose to leave the alliance, now comprised only of Intelsat, SES and Telesat. In a brief Sept. 3 statement, Eutelsat said it “announces its withdrawal from the C-Band Alliance,” having only notified alliance members today. 

The C-Band Alliance has proposed the sale of 200 megahertz of C-band spectrum to companies and organizations who want to use it for high-speed 5G wireless networks in the United States. The Federal Communications Commission, having deemed satellite C-band airwaves as important for cellular 5G rollout, is expected to decide on how to open up the band to multiple users this fall. 

Eutelsat said it still wants to “take a direct active part in the discussions on C-band clearing and repurposing,” but did not explain how that would happen outside of the alliance. 

Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat’s chief executive, hinted at frustrations with the alliance during a July 31 earnings call, saying the group had procrastinated on calculating proceeds for its members, and that no consensus existed on a voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury. 

“There is no real agreement and alignment on that question within the CBA, contrary to what has been said,” Belmer said.

Eutelsat could not be immediately reached for comment.

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