The Surprising Discovery About 5G You Need to Know


Fellow satellite broadcasters: Your station could be affected by 5G interference sooner than you think. And I’m not just talking about networks and stations in the top 46 PEA (Population Economic Area) markets.

In June, we spent some time with the engineer for Gray TV in Honolulu. (And, yes, we were working!) He mentioned to us that his antennas have been experiencing intermittent interference from an unidentified source. We put a spectrum analyzer on one of his downlinks and confirmed his suspicions, and ours: 5G in the lower band was the culprit.

Interference is not just happening in Hawaii. We’ve had reports from places like Miami, Jacksonville, FL and Omaha, NE of occasional interference.

How much interference, you ask? Enough to cause concern that the C-band signal they receive is in jeopardy.

Most of you are aware that up to 60 percent of the C-band spectrum is in the process of being repackaged for 5G. By the end of 2021, the Mid-band spectrum of 3.7-3.82 GHz will be firmly in the hands of broadband followed by 3.7-4.0 GHz by the end of 2023. The upper frequency of 4.0-4.2 GHz has been allocated for broadcasting.

By December 5, the top 46 markets will be lighting up 5G.

Which is why most of us believed that 5G interference would be limited (at least initially) to these larger markets, but now our perception has changed.

We’re seeing that broadcasters in markets inside and outside the top 46 PEA’s are experiencing 5G interference NOW.

The problem is coming from broadband, but not from the Mid-band, or C-band, frequency. Rather, the use of 5G in the lower band ranges that are close to the Mid-band — the adjacent 3.5 – 3.7 GHz is already being used by broadband for 5G. And this is causing many broadcasters major heartburn.

The good news for Gray TV is the interference didn’t cause any downtime, but it lowered Eb/No’s enough to affect the network’s margin.

It was enough interference to inhibit reliability, and that’s never acceptable.

What really stinks in this scenario is the knowledge that — whether you registered your C-band antenna with the FCC or not — the location of the source of this specific interference, the lower-band range, is NOT protected by the FCC.

Meaning? There’s no FCC appointed clearinghouse covering the cost of these updates; your station or network will need to deal with the filter install and peaking of the antenna yourselves.

If you have the time and want to tackle this yourself, great. If not, our seasoned team of satellite antenna experts are always available to help.

For several months now, Team LinkUp has been involved in assisting both our customers and satellite owners like SES and Intelsat in preparing stations and networks for the coming 5G. We’ve handled dozens of repack projects around the country.

So, if allowing LinkUp to take on the responsibility of completing the C-band transition plan something that you’d like to explore, let’s have a conversation.