Senate C-Band Hearing: What We Learned

Today the Senate FSGG sub-committee held a hearing with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), which we previewed yesterday (LINK). Here are our quick takeaways (Blair will be providing more detail in his weekend update):

1) Positive: Pai's principles. Pai laid out 4 principles for the C-Band re-allocation process: (1) ensuring a significant amount is made available, (2) making the spectrum available quickly, (3) revenue to government (amount unstated), and (4) preservation of existing C-Band services. He also said the FCC favors a “market-based approach” to re-purposing spectrum for 5G (LINK). This is the most detail we have seen on Pai’s thinking to date, and we believe it is supportive of our view that a CBA-led proposal will be adopted at the FCC.

2) Neutral: Kennedy’s crusade continues, but lacks support. Kennedy indicated that he would want to hold another set of hearings with FCC staff regarding the C-Band process. He also discussed the potential “$60BN windfall” at length, noting it could fund several other government projects (including the wall). We think his outspokenness at the hearing was in-line with his advocacy against the CBA’s proposal to date. It was clear that other members of the sub-committee were disinterested (as they have been thus far); the room was empty for most of the hearing. Only two other Senators spoke – Sens. Moran (R-KS) and Boozman (R-AR); only Sen. Moran asked about C-Band, and he only asked one question about preserving current users. As we noted yesterday, without more support, we don’t see much of a path forward for Kennedy’s opposition.