C-Band Phase II Countdown
- Summary of expected impacts to affected earth stations
- Update on Intelsat’s Phase I filtering plans
- Sign up for our monthly earth station newsletter or view prior months’ newsletters
- Summary of Intelsat’s vendor partners
- Overview of Intelsat’s earth station outreach
- Summary of earth station responsibilities
- Summary of transition support available to eligible earth stations
For earth stations, the transition will require two types of system changes that may occur separately or simultaneously: earth station migration and earth station filtering.
First, earth station migration involves any necessary changes that will allow the earth stations to receive C-band services on new frequencies or from new satellites once Intelsat has relocated services into the upper portion of the band. For example, in instances where satellite transmissions need to be moved to a new frequency, polarity, or to a new satellite, earth stations currently receiving those transmissions may need to be returned or repointed in order to receive on the new frequencies, polarities, or from a new satellite.
Such a transition requires a “dual illumination” period, during which the same programming is simultaneously downlinked over the original frequency and/or satellite and over the new frequency and/or satellite so that the receiving earth station can continue receiving transmissions from the original frequency/satellite until it retunes or repoints the antenna to receive on the new frequency or satellite.
Second, earth station filtering requires the installation of passband filters on all active earth stations in CONUS to block signals from adjacent channels and to prevent harmful interference from 5G operations. Earth station filtering can occur either simultaneously with, or after, the earth station migration. Intelsat and its vendors will coordinate these earth station migration actions to allow earth stations to continue receiving existing C-band services during and after the transition. Filtering is required in two phases based on the location of earth stations. Those in the 46 of the top 50 Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) were required to be filtered by the end of Phase I on December 5, 2021. All earth stations must be filtered by the end of Phase II on December 5, 2023. For more details on the filtering requirements, see the FAQ.
Intelsat’s Transition Plan filed with the FCC goes into more detail on the expected process for each of the various earth station migration types and filter installation (Sections 5.2 & 5.3). It also describes the planned customer migration schedule and associated dual illumination windows (Section 6). Intelsat updates the customer migration in each Quarterly Status Report. An Excel version of the latest customer migration plans can be downloaded here.
With Intelsat’s Phase I filtering having been completed September 30, 2021, focus has shifted to completing the remaining customer transitions and planning & execution of Phase II filtering. Under the terms of the FCC’s Report & Order, passband filters must be installed on all incumbent earth stations to to block the lower 300 MHz of spectrum and mitigate the risk of future interference from 5G operations by December 5, 2023. This will include revisiting all of the sites where “red” filters were installed in Phase I to replace with end state “blue” filters.
While Intelsat had begun some filtering of earth stations for which services had transitioned above 4000 MHz earlier, the majority of our Phase II filtering will be executed between September 2022 and August 2023. Intelsat and our vendor partners will begin conducting additional outreach in Q1 2022 and expect to start scheduling filter installations in August 2022. Given the volume of earth station antennas requiring filters and the compressed schedule under which the work must be completed, Intelsat has very limited flexibility to accommodate special scheduling requests. We ask that you please be responsive to our vendor partners’ scheduling requests. We will attempt to contact you at least 3 times over a 2-week period to schedule the filter installations. Earth stations that are unresponsive or uncooperative risk escalation to the FCC.
During the scheduling calls, we will verify site and antenna information and coordinate the date(s) on which filter installation will be performed. The information gathered will include:
- Confirmation of site address and point of contact
- Review of each affected antenna (make, model, size, satellites received, location, registration status)
- Confirmation of site maintenance window, any special equipment needs or other requirements
We appreciate your continued engagement and cooperation during this process. If you have questions about this process, please contact our team at CBandInfo@intelsat.com.
Provide your email address to sign up for future communications from Intelsat on our C-band clearing efforts and the vital collaboration with earth station operators necessary to ensure a successful and seamless transition.
Intelsat has several vendors supporting the C-band transition. While we try to minimize the number of vendors reaching out to earth stations, the unique roles being played invariably means that some earth stations are receiving multiple calls to gather data and possibly schedule work. In addition, other satellite operators are also, in some cases, leveraging the same vendors, which may result in multiple contacts from the same vendor. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding. Please be responsive to the requests, as they are essential to ensure continuity of services throughout the transition. Please contact Intelsat at CBandInfo@intelsat.com if you have any questions about or need confirmation of any such requests you receive.
Earth station outreach is an essential part of Intelsat’s planning. It is designed to ensure that we can definitively identify earth stations that receive Intelsat services via satellite, as well as to gather the necessary data to scope and plan the work required at each earth station to enable a seamless transition.
For more details on outreach and the information required, see our FAQ.
The responsibilities of each earth station operator under the FCC Report & Order, and what they can expect in terms of support from Intelsat, are determined by their registration/incumbency status with the FCC and whether or not they elected to take the lump sum opt-out.
* Responsibilities of an unregistered earth station, to the extent that they want to ensure continuity of existing services
Intelsat offers transition support services free of charge to operators of earth stations that meet the eligibility requirements outlined in the graphic below. This support includes IRD installation, antenna repoints, polarity changes and retuning. It also includes the installation of new antennas where required by customers transitioning to a new satellite or to replace antennas as required to ensure “same or better” service.
Intelsat is actively reaching out to customers’ known downlink or affiliate earth stations to offer support, but affiliate list accuracy varies. For those that require support and haven’t heard from us, please contact us at CBandInfo@intelsat.com.