3 ways concerned broadcasters can hold their own in the midst of the 5g revolution


It feels like a steamroller – or maybe a runaway train. Seems like everyone in the media and inside the Beltway are touting 5G as the “latest and greatest”; promising unparalleled speed and connectivity even in remote areas currently underserved by broadband. America is in a technological sprint not seen since the 1960’s race to the moon.

A decision on how best to proceed with both C-band users wanting to keep the entire mid-band frequency (3.7-4.2 Ghz) and 5G pushing the commission for complete access to the same spectrum has been in the works for several months, with the FCC set to make a decision by May or June. But that recently changed. According to insiders, the FCC is still in “information gathering” mode, and is not planning on making a firm decision about the mid-band spectrum until the fourth quarter of this year.

But this delay does not mean that the FCC – or broadband – is not moving forward. In preparation for the FCC’s decision, broadband companies continue to roll out 5G on telephones poles all over the US. We’re seeing ads promoting 5G in major markets all over the country. And the FCC just authorized a massive auction during the month of December on C-band 3.7 to 3.9 GHz to bolster 5G service.

So, yeah – it’s not a question of “if” 5G will gain access to the mid-band frequency, the real question is “how much” they will they gain from the FCC.

But there IS hope. Maybe I’m just an optimist, but I do believe there IS a solution that allows America to continue to advance in the international technical race and preserve uninterrupted C-band delivery.

The solution is in the form of the C-band Alliance’s proposal before the FCC. The C-band Alliance is pushing a “market-based approach” where the mid-band frequency is repurposed, with 5G gaining 200 MHz of C-band space and all C-band users being relocated to the 300 MHz left. Filters on all C-band antennas (paid for by broadband, installed by trained techs) and a buffer zone (think DMZ) between the two users are part of the plan. Please note: this is the ONLY proposal in front of the FCC that protects the rural radio and television networks – non-profit or commercial.

Team LinkUp has been intimately involved in the 5G vs C-band issue for over a year. We’ve explored how 5G will effect current C-band users, and we believe the signal impact will be significantly disruptive. That’s why we have actively voiced our support of the C-band Alliance, along with the NAB, NPR, SBE and Am-bos.

As most of you know, we’ve spoken to the FCC, our congressional lawmakers, the press, and anyone else who will listen to us and asked that they, too, support the repurposing of the mid-band frequency so broadband and C-band can peacefully co-habitat.

Here are steps that we suggest you take to actively seek support for the only proposal that provide C-band equal footing with 5G. Please, consider how you can add your voice to the conversation by taking action.

  • Go online and contact your Federal representatives in the US House and US Senate. Not only did Mark and I meet with our elected officials in Washington, we also contacted them through their websites. We explained to lawmakers who we were, what we do, and the devastating impact we expect 5G will have on the broadcast community at large; faith-based and rural broadcasting, specifically. We have also urged our employees, our family members and our friends to do the same.

    You may not operate a C-band platform but, by our estimates, as much as 98 percent of the programming distributed to our customers’ stations are fed via C-band.

  • Consider notifying your listeners about the issue. By Friday of this week you will find on our website’s “Resources” page you two PSA’s, written and voiced by LinkUp. You are free to download the audio file to use on your network, or record the PSA’s in your studio. The spots are written to encourage listeners to contact their lawmakers in the US House and Senate on your network’s behalf.
  • Contact the NAB, the NRB or SBE and voice your concerns. Ask them to continue to push the FCC to support the C-band Alliance’s proposal.

Remember: broadband is spending millions to influence lawmakers, businesses and the FCC to support 5G. Don’t wait until you experience interference to show your concern. Please, act now.