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 C-Band Repacking


Repacking is pretty much done.  Many of us are dealing with interference from new terrestrial services.  There are a number of possibilities for abating the problem.  First stop is a new filter at the input of the dish.  The older "AWACS" filter will not have the necessary narrow passband for satellite signals...and if you are operating with no filter at all, you may see your receiver light up with objections as the LNB gets swamped. 

There are specific filters available to pass the necessary satellite frequencies while brick-walling frequencies outside the passband.  Other solutions? Where's the interfering signal coming from?  Can you shield the dish in that direction - maybe move behind a building.  Then there's always the possibility of a cooperative interfering party.  They may be able to use dishes with narrower focus or orient in a different directions to avoid your dish.

If you did the licensing a few years back, you have some standing to resolve the interference.  If you didn't, it'll all be up to you.

Remember when everyone scurried to license their earth stations?  Well, we hope you took care of yours.* 

C Band DishIf you haven't heard - or maybe just chose to ignore it because it doesn't affect you, the FCC is in the process of relocating the bottom 280MHz of satellite C-band.  It'll all be auctioned off to help satisfy the bandwidth appetite of 5G services.  In fact, that's what it'll be called, the 3.7 GHz Service.

If you have any sort of earth station in the 3.7 GHz band, your ears/eyes should perk up because everything in this band is vulnerable to relocation or "repacking" into the 4GHz-4.2GHz remaining space.  In a way, it's similar to the recent TV repacking which brought every station above channel 38 down to channels 2 to 31.

Will it affect you?  Sure!. It may be as simple as retuning a C-Band receiver.  Then again, it could mean reaiming a dish and, in all cases, dealing the possibility with terrestrial (5G) interference.  A 5G signal may be a couple of megahertz from your desired signal but coming from a tower a quarter mile down the road, could easily cause a receiver to block necessitating a filter or totally moving a downlink dish.

This is something to stay on top of as it moves through two stages with the bottom 100 MHz earth stations being moved to higher frequencies by December 5, 2021 and stage two moving the rest of the stations (3.8GHz to 4GHz) with a deadline two years later.  No allowance for Covid or other delays as of this point.

Cost?  Another unfunded mandate?  Well, no. Check DA 20-802 from the FCC as to estimates for repacking costs and for recouping some costs from the new neighbors in the band.

Probably the biggest issue will be the logistics.  For example - if you are pulling down signals from two different originators, one may be "in the clear" while the other needs to move.  Deciding on when to do that will depend on the deadline and, more importantly, identifying the changed frequency then figuring out whether a new dish is needed or it's "just" a re-aim or retune...and, of course, coordinating your plans with the originator.  No good making your changes a month before the originators do theirs.

The satellite groups and uplink services are working on it all.  But don't let it get away from you.

*If you're not on this list, you're probably going to need your communications attorney to get involved. 

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