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Intelsat Orders C-Band Satellites from Maxar, Northrop Grumman 

By Rachel Jewett | June 15, 2020
Intelsat's North America headquarters. Photo: Intelsat

Intelsat’s North America headquarters. Photo: Intelsat

Intelsat has contracted Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman to build new satellites to support its C-band spectrum clearing. The satellite operator announced Monday that Maxar Technologies will build and deliver four satellites, and Northrop Grumman will build and deliver two satellites. The operator is also currently in negotiations with manufacturers for a seventh satellite.

The new satellites are necessary as Intelsat clears the C-band for 5G deployment on the FCC’s accelerated timeline in order to receive incentive payments. Intelsat is eligible to receive $4.87 billion, about half of the total payments, in addition to relocation cost reimbursement. The operator said it will file its full C-band spectrum transition plan with the FCC later this week, which will detail manufacturing and launch details for new satellites.

Intelsat is currently undergoing Chapter 11 restructuring. The operator filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, and said that its desire to receive accelerated relocation payments for clearing C-band spectrum was a driver for the company to restructure its balance sheet.

“Quickly clearing 300 megahertz of the U.S. C-band spectrum to make way for 5G wireless applications is a complex task, layered with a significant number of highly interdependent technical activities, including building and launching multiple new satellites designed to operate at the higher portion of the band,” said Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco. “Intelsat looks forward to collaborating with our longstanding partners Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman on these critical builds, essential to clearing portions of the C-band spectrum and cementing America’s leadership in 5G.”