The C-Band lump sum option: four timely resources to help you make your decision


It’s been a crazy month.

US operators of registered C-Band earth stations, directly impacted by the Mid-band spectrum repack, are being asked by the FCC to make a choice: Do they want to be reimbursed for the steps that must be taken to be compliant with the FCC’s C-band “co-share” mandate?

The C-band lump sum option came as a big surprise to us and so many other members of the C-band broadcasting community.

Once word was out, Mark and I tried to quickly inhale anything and everything regarding the C-Band lump sum option, just as we’ve done ever since we first heard of broadband’s intentions to utilize the Mid-band frequency for the expansion of 5G years ago. We’ve really found ourselves in the thick of things.

There are a lot of radio and television broadcasters desperate for objective information. Because a deadline is looming and much is at stake, they’re asking questions.

We can’t claim to be totally objective – the Johnsons are unabashed advocates for preserving what’s left of the C-band spectrum for satellite broadcasting – but we will tell you the truth. We’ll call it as we see it, and share with you everything we’ve learned.

Whether you’re a C-band network or you receive programming on a C-band downlink, there are certain points everyone needs to consider. And, for some, the decision is more complex than they thought.

We’ve seen the comments on broadcast list servers. Comments like, “Man, this is a no brainer! I can slap a filter on myself and MAKE money in the process!”


As Mark stated in a recent interview with Radio World, “If you only need to install a filter and your antenna is in good shape it would be very fair. However, if you have to move your antenna and the antenna is old and rusty the ‘lump sum’ would not cover the cost of installing a new antenna with a new filter.”

Moving an antenna, replacing an antenna…actions like these are going to cost you, big time. Instead of the satellite owners being responsible, it will be YOU taking on any and all costs for your C-band network or downlink to be compliant.

Here’s our take: Accepting the lump sum could be a choice for so many of our friends and customers in the industry, but a decision as costly as this cannot be made quickly. It truly justifies at least a few hours of your time. Do the homework and make an educated decision.

And let us help. We’ve gathered a few resources together that we believe might clarify for you the responsibilities and risks regarding accepting the FCC’s lump sum payment.

1) The Society of Broadcast Engineering educational course: C-Band In the New Shared Environment. This is a great overview of the C-band mandate, and includes the timeline and milestones, qualified earth stations, transition planning, and next steps to prepare for the new shared environment. Free to all SBE members.

2) An article in Radio World, summarizing National Association of Broadcaster’s recent C-band webinar, currently available on the NAB website. Recorded on Monday, August 24, the webinar lasted a little more than a half hour, but included a wealth of detail critical to determining the best course for broadcasters exploring the lump sum option.

Mark’s comments during the NAB webinar were featured in the article, as was several points raised by Matthew Pearl, an assistant bureau chief with the FCC. If you read the article you’ll see some of Pearl’s comments are extremely important to understand, including that – no matter the cost of making your earth stations compliant – “the decision to elect the lump-sum is irrevocable.”

3) The NAB C-band Webinar. Recorded on Monday, August 24, the panel of experts included the above mentioned Matthew Pearl from the FCC, Mark, and representatives from fleet operators SES and Intelsat. Topics discussed included:

– What are the consequences of electing to choose the lump sum payment?
– What should stations know before making their choice?
– How does a station file an election, and what specific information is required?
– Can a station change its mind after the deadline?

4) We’ve written two customized decision guides – one for C-band networks and one for folks who operate C-band downlinks only – called, THE C-BAND PROCESS: OUR EVALUATION MATRIX. The tool is a basic go-to so you can learn exactly what the benefits and drawbacks are in accepting the lump sum, in contrast to participating in the coordinated lump sum process. Go to our website and choose the Matrix that is right for you.