SES and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agree that C-band (3700 to 4200 MHz) has capacity for future Fifth Generation (5G) cellular wireless systems. By moving some commercial satellite communications (satcom) systems into the upper portion of the C-band spectrum, the lower portion of that band will be available for 5G mobile network operators. In fact, SES has recently selected the suppliers for four of what will ultimately be six additional C-band satellites: Northrop Grumman and Boeing Co. Northrop Grumman will provide a pair of GeoStar-3 satellites, SES-18 and SES-19, in the C-band constellation, which will be designed, assembled, and tested in Dulles, VA. Boeing will deliver a pair of its all electric 702SP satellites, SES-20 and SES-21, in the constellation, produced in Los Angeles, CA.
The new satellites are scheduled to launch in 2022. Each will have 10 primary transponders with 36-MHz bandwidth (and additional backup bandwidth) to handle data transmissions and broadcast-quality digital television signals. By operating only within the C-band frequency range, the satellites will preserve the lower portion of the C-band range for 5G, clearing 280 MHz of spectrum.
Amer Khouri, Northrop Grumman’s vice-president of communications missions, commented on the relationship with SES: “This award demonstrates SES’s continued confidence in our GEOStar satellite platform and the excellent relationship that has been developed over the years between our two companies. These will be the 8th and 9th GEO communications satellites built for SES by Northrop Grumman and will continue our legacy of delivering quality spacecraft that support our customer’s most critical needs.” Steve Collar, the chief executive officer (CEO) of SES, added: “The timeline to build and launch these C-band satellites is ambitious, and we are fully committed and proud to be working with our long-time American partner Northrop Grumman to build these two satellites in the United States for the millions of cable television households across the country, while clearing spectrum as quickly as possible for 5G use.”