C-Band Phase II Countdown
Frequently Asked Questions
Earth Station Outreach
- Why is Intelsat contacting my site again when I already provided information?
- What information will Intelsat gather during outreach?
- I entered information into the IBFS database, why does Intelsat require more information?
- When will I be contacted?
Earth Station Filtering
- Why are filters required?
- What are the specifications for the 5G passband filters?
- When are filters required to be installed?
- Why is Intelsat requiring that passband filters be installed by August 2023?
- In which Phase am I required to install passband filters (i.e., in which PEA am I)?
- Where can I get approved 5G passband filters?
- Will Intelsat filter all my antennas?
Earth Station Transition
- How can I confirm that my earth station qualifies as an Incumbent Earth Station, per the FCC?
- I elected to take the lump sum opt out. What happens now?
- Am I eligible for Intelsat’s transition support?
- I didn’t register all my antennas with the FCC. What can I expect in terms of transition support?
- How do I contact Intelsat for transition support?
- Who are Intelsat’s vendor partners supporting transition?
- What can I expect when I engage Intelsat’s vendors for transition support?
- What if I would prefer to self-install required equipment?
- How do I get reimbursed for expenses I incur during the transitions?
Earth Station Outreach
Why is Intelsat contacting my site again when I already provided information?
Intelsat is working to augment the data gathered from earth station operators over the past year to ensure transition plans for each earth station are comprehensive. The FCC requires satellite operators to correlate the transition work performed against their list of registered, incumbent earth station antennas. This requires detailed registration information for each antenna, which was not previously gathered. In addition, Intelsat is proactively identifying undersized and underperforming antennas so that they can be evaluated for replacement.
What information will Intelsat gather during outreach?
During the outreach process, Intelsat and its vendors will verify and collect the following information for each earth station:
- Earth station address
- Correct technical points of contact on-site
- The quantity and size of C-band downlink antennas on-site
- The quantity of feeds and polarizations on each antenna
- The orbital locations and/or satellites to which each antenna feed is pointed
- Details on specific services that are downlinked to each antenna feed
- Registration details for each antenna (FCC Callsign, File Number, etc.)
- Equipment needed to install filters (bucket truck, ladder, etc.)
- Best time to install filters (maintenance window)
Each phone call duration will vary depending on the number of earth stations represented by the contact and the number of C-band downlink antennas at each site. Intelsat also offers earth stations the opportunity to provide the required information via a web survey.
I entered information into the IBFS database, why does Intelsat require more information?
The IBFS database did not require earth station operators to include information such as size of antenna, orbital location to which the antenna is pointed and the number of feeds on each antenna – all of which is relevant to the clearing process. In addition, many registrations did not include the appropriate technical contacts required for more detailed planning. Without these key pieces of information, Intelsat would not be able to build a comprehensive transition plan that ensures our customers’ and affected earth stations’ continuity of services.
When will I be contacted?
Intelsat will begin outreach for Phase II earth station filtering in Q1 2022 and expects to conduct outreach throughout 2022.
Earth Station Filtering
The FCC has required the installation of passband filters on all earth stations located in CONUS to block signals from adjacent channels and to prevent harmful interference from new flexible-use operations.
Each passband filter has the following characteristics:
- The filters are passive and require no electrical power to work.
- The filters are generally less than 12” long, made of aluminum and bolt onto the antenna feed.
- The filters are designed to also serve as altimeter radar filters. Thus, in cases where existing antenna feeds have an altimeter filter installed, Intelsat’s vendors will remove the altimeter filter and replace it with the new dual-purpose (5G and altimeter radar) filter.
There are two types of filters:
- “Red” filters – block the lower 120 MHz (3700 – 3820 MHz)
- “Blue” filters – block the full lower 300 MHz (3700 – 4000 MHz)
To view the passband filter specifications, click here.
For earth stations located within (or near) the 46 of the top 50 Partial Economic Areas (PEAs), filters were required to be installed no later than the Phase I deadline of December 5, 2021. Where antennas continue to receive services between 3820 and 4000 MHz, an interim “Red” filter must be installed. For antennas that do not receive services below 4000 MHz, only an end-state “Blue” filter must be installed.
Intelsat is actively installing filters at earth stations where satellite transitions have been completed, or where all services are already above respective threshold (3820 MHz for “Red” filters, 4000 MHz for “Blue” filters). Intelsat installed “Red” filters at eligible MVPDs and large broadcasters between June and September 2021.
End-state “Blue” filters must be installed for all CONUS antennas no later than the Phase II deadline of December 5, 2023. Intelsat will begin most “Blue” filter installations at eligible MVPDs and large broadcasters between September 2022 and August 2023.
While the FCC’s Phase II deadline is December 5, 2023, Intelsat and its vendors have targeted the window between September 2022 and August 2023 to complete the installation of passband filters on incumbent earth stations. The primary drivers for this schedule is the completion of Intelsat’s customer migration plan and ensuring that Intelsat has sufficient time to remediate any issues discovered during filter installations while minimizing any risk to our customers’ and downlink earth stations’ service continuity.
Intelsat’s Phase I customer migrations to free the lower 120 MHz of spectrum completed on schedule May 31, 2021. Intelsat will complete the progressive clearing of the lower 300 MHz of spectrum on each satellite throughout 2022 and early 2023. In addition, Intelsat will no longer offer Occasional Use (OU) capacity for downlink within CONUS in the lower 300 MHz after September 30, 2022, in order to mitigate the risk that Intelsat blocks services through the installation of filters.
Earth stations can confirm in which Partial Economic Area (PEA) they reside by reviewing the PEA definitions & boundaries published by the FCC. The FCC included the top 50 PEAs with 4 exclusions in Phase I: Baltimore-Washington (PEA 5), Atlanta (PEA 11), Denver (PEA 20) and Honolulu (PEA 42).
In addition to earth stations located in 46 of the top 50 PEAs, Intelsat recommends that earth stations within close proximity in adjacent PEAs also need to be filtered in Phase I because they are at increased risk of interference from 5G deployment in 46 of the top 50 PEAs.
The latest list of all earth stations that Intelsat believes are within our scope and their respective PEA and phase can be found in the appendices filed with Intelsat’s Quarterly Status Report (December 29, 2021). Intelsat will continue to update this list in each subsequent Quarterly Status Report.
Intelsat will provide and install passband filters free of charge for Incumbent Earth Stations that have not elected to take the lump sum, as well as for collocated unregistered antennas.
For unregistered earth stations not collocated with Incumbent Earth Stations and those that elected to take the lump sum, please contact Intelsat at CBandInfo@intelsat.com for more information on how to purchase filters.
Under the terms of the FCC’s Report & Order, Intelsat is required to install passband filters on all incumbent earth station antennas that are pointed to Intelsat satellites on a fixed basis. In addition, Intelsat has committed voluntarily to filtering all unregistered earth station antennas that are collocated with at least one incumbent earth station antenna.
Where an earth station has antennas pointed at both Intelsat and SES satellites, Intelsat is working with SES to streamline filter installation and minimize the burden on earth station technical staff. In the case of MVPDs served by both Intelsat and SES, Intelsat and SES will leverage one vendor to install filters on both Intelsat and SES antennas in one visit. For the avoidance of doubt, Intelsat will not filter antennas pointed at any satellite operators’ satellites other than those of Intelsat and SES.
Earth Station Transition
The FCC published the updated list of Incumbent Earth Stations on October 8, 2021. This list also specifies whether each earth station has an accepted lump sum election.
If an earth station operator has questions on their registration status, they can reach the FCC’s IBFS Help Line at 202-418-2222.
The FCC published an updated Incumbent Earth Station List, which includes lump sum election status, on October 8, 2021. Earth station operators whose lump sum elections were accepted by the FCC are responsible for coordinating with Intelsat (and all other applicable space station operators) as necessary to self-perform the required transition activities in accordance with Intelsat’s published Transition Plan.
An earth stations’ eligibility for transition support depends on the earth stations’ incumbency status and whether their operators elected to take the lump sum. In general, Incumbent Earth Stations for which their operators did not elect to take the lump sum are eligible for transition support free of charge from Intelsat, including:
- IRD installation (unregistered earth stations are also eligible)
- Frequency retuning
- Polarity changes
- Repointing antennas where customer services are moving to a new satellite
- Antenna installation where customer services are moving to a new satellite and repointing is not an option
- Antenna replacements where underperforming antennas will not satisfy our obligation for “same or better” service
- Installation of passband filters
Intelsat has committed to voluntarily installing filters on all unregistered antennas that are collocated with at least one Incumbent Earth Station receiving services from an Intelsat satellite. They will be filtered at the same time as filter installations are performed on the Incumbent Earth Station(s).
Unregistered antennas are not eligible for additional transition support – e.g., repointing or antenna replacement. In addition, Intelsat’s installation of filters on unregistered antennas does not change the antennas’ protection status with regards to the FCC Report & Order.
Intelsat has not committed to filtering (or providing transition support) for unregistered antennas not collocated with an Incumbent Earth Station receiving services from an Intelsat satellite.
Intelsat and its vendors are actively reaching out to known downlink or affiliate earth stations of customers transitioning to offer support, but affiliate list accuracy varies. As a result, Intelsat is not always aware of what customer services are received at each earth station. For those that require support and haven’t heard from us, please contact us at: CBandInfo@intelsat.com.
Intelsat has partnered with three main vendors to support transition activities:
- USSI Global is Intelsat’s primary vendor for outreach, IRD distribution, transition support and filter installation for MVPDs.
- Wesco is Intelsat’s primary vendor for outreach, transition services and filter installation for all radio, broadcast and other non-cable earth stations.
- ATCi is Intelsat’s primary vendor for outreach and transition services for Simulsat antennas.
Intelsat details the work associated with repacking the C-band and the process for engaging earth stations in Section 5 of our Transition Plan. In summary, earth stations can expect:
- Intelsat’s vendors will verify the scope of the required work via a virtual site survey and confirm eligibility of the earth station. In some cases, a physical site survey may be necessary.
- Intelsat’s vendors will work with earth station operators to schedule the work during the applicable dual illumination window(s) and per the earth station’s site access policies and applicable maintenance windows.
- Intelsat’s vendors will dispatch a technician to the site to complete the agreed upon work.
- When new equipment, including filters, is installed, Intelsat’s vendors will take pre- and post-installation performance measurements to ensure the “same or better” performance standard is met and will seek site acceptance of the completed work.
Operators of Incumbent Earth Stations that wish to self-install required equipment for their transition(s) at one or more of their sites should contact Intelsat at CBandInfo@intelsat.com. The earth station operator should specify whether they wish to procure the required equipment on their own or have Intelsat provide the required equipment. Intelsat will work with each earth station operator to determine the specific antenna(s) on the FCC’s updated list of Incumbent Earth Stations that will be addressed under the self-installation agreement.
Operators of Incumbent Earth Stations that enter a self-installation agreement with Intelsat will be required to abide by the schedule contained in Intelsat’s Transition Plan and must provide certification that the work has been completed as planned. In these cases, earth station operators will be responsible for seeking reimbursement for their applicable expenses directly through the Relocation Payment Clearinghouse.
Incumbent Earth Station operators that have not elected to take the lump sum may leverage Intelsat’s transition support free of charge. However, the Report & Order also contemplates the reimbursement of Incumbent Earth Stations’ “reasonable costs” related to the clearing of the lower 300 MHz (see paragraphs 193 – 195).
The Relocation Payment Clearinghouse has published its C-band Handbook, providing details on the reimbursement claims submissions process, as well as the process for receiving lump sum payments and other related information on its website.