As satellite companies make spectrum available for terrestrial 5G users, C-band is in the news.
However, the majority of C-band capacity is not in use, according to a recent report from strategy consultant Euroconsult, “The Use of Extended C-band, Planned C-band and the 7025-7075 MHz Band for Satellite Services.” The analysis focuses on the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.
“We did not have access to utilization information on all satellites,” Pacome Revillon, chief executive at Euroconsult, told Connectivity Business News, noting that the company had reviewed data representing approximately 47% of total capacity.
“On those satellites [and] that capacity that we could assess, we found that the average [C-band] use rate was 54%,” Revillon said. “We consider that estimate to be statistically representative in view of the number of satellites that we could effectively assess.”
To fill in gaps in the public record, Euroconsult “approached 32 satellite operators identified as using extended or planned C-band; 58 satellite service providers, identified end-users, trade associations and equipment vendors; and 58 regulatory agencies in Africa, the Middle East and Asia,” according to the report.
“Of the used capacity, the vast majority of the capacity usage appears to be for telecom applications, ahead of TV channel distribution for the broadcast industry,” according to the report. Details are shown in the chart below.
Technology advances permit more intense usage of spectrum, according to Euroconsult. “Most communication satellites can reuse their spectrum in multiple polarizations and separate spotbeams,” the report states.
SES’ C-band clearing
Satellite operator SES (EPA: SESG) has already booked $1 billion from C-band clearing and the company could earn an additional $3 billion from C-band clearing in 2023, according to reports.
“SES will be launching five satellites in 2022 to carry services via the C-band in the U.S.: SES-18, SES-19, SES-20, SES-21 and SES-22 will enable the broadcast delivery of digital television to nearly 120 million TV homes, as well as provide critical data services,” an SES spokesperson told Connectivity Business News.
The launch of the five satellites is part of a broader program to clear the lower 300 MHz of C-band spectrum and enable U.S. wireless operators to deploy 5G services across the contiguous U.S., according to the spokesperson.
“To meet the FCC’s accelerated deadline of clearing C-band spectrum across the U.S. by December 2023 while maintaining uninterrupted services for our customers, SES will use these satellites to provide the necessary capacity for our existing services that are transitioning from the lower 300 MHz to the upper 200 MHz of the C-band,” the spokesperson said.