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SES due to receive $1bn for US 5G spectrum



SES is due to receive close to $1bn for the accelerated clearing and relocation of C-band spectrum in the first quarter of 2022  Photo: Maison Moderne Publishing

SES is due to receive close to $1bn for the accelerated clearing and relocation of C-band spectrum in the first quarter of 2022  Photo: Maison Moderne Publishing

Luxembourg satellite operator SES is due to collect the first of $4bn for clearing parts of the C-band electromagnetic spectrum, which the US wants to use for its 5G network.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has validated Phase I of the company’s C-band clearing and relocation activities, SES said in a statement, paving the way for the company to receive close to $1bn in the first quarter of 2022.

“Over the past two years we have worked tirelessly to quickly clear spectrum while also carefully transitioning our customers’ services, and we are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished. This was a tremendous undertaking, and our success reinforces our confidence in our ability to meet the FCC’s Phase II deadline in 2023,” said CEO Steve Collar.

SES remains on track to clear 280 MHz of spectrum to speed up deployment of 5G services in the US, the company said. Successfully completing Phase II of clearing and relocation by 5 December 2023 makes SES eligible for a further $3bn.

The US had asked SES and other space operators to clear the spectrum agreeing to pay out $9.7bn if they commit to, and succeed in, clearing the spectrum early. Without the incentive payments, the deadline for clearing the spectrum would have been 5 December 2025. 

The accelerated relocation allows the US to speed up developing its ultrafast 5G network.

To clear the spectrum, SES ordered new satellites with Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Thales--to make sure services aren’t interrupted--as well as making changes to ground stations.