The C band is a designation by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
(IEEE) for a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum
in the microwave
range of frequencies ranging from 4.0 to 8.0 gigahertz
(GHz); however, this definition is the one used by radar
manufacturers and users, not necessarily by microwave radio telecommunication
s users. The C band (4 to 8 GHz
) is used for many satellite communications
transmissions, some Wi-Fi
devices, some cordless telephone
s as well as some surveillance
and weather radar system
Use in satellite communication
The communications C band was the first frequency band that was allocated for commercial telecommunications via satellites. The same frequencies were already in use for terrestrial microwave radio relay
chains. Nearly all C-band communication satellites use the band of frequencies from 3.7 to 4.2 GHz for their downlinks
, and the band of frequencies from 5.925 to 6.425 GHz for their uplinks
. Note that by using the band from 3.7 to 4.0 GHz, this C band overlaps somewhat with the IEEE S band
The C-band communication satellites typically have 24 radio transponders
spaced 20 MHz apart, but with the adjacent transponders on opposite polarization
s such that transponders on the same
polarization are always 40 MHz apart. Of this 40 MHz, each transponder utilizes about 36 MHz. (The unused 4.0 MHz between the pairs of transponders acts as "guard bands" for the likely case of imperfections in the microwave electronics
One use of the C band is for satellite communication, whether for full-time satellite television networks or raw satellite feeds, although subscription programming
also exists. This use contrasts with direct-broadcast satellite
, which is a completely closed system used to deliver subscription programming to small satellite dishes that are connected with proprietary receiving equipment.
The satellite communications portion of the C band is highly associated with television receive-only
satellite reception systems, commonly called "big dish" systems, since small receiving antennas are not optimal for C-band. Typical antenna sizes on C-band capable systems range from 6 to 12 feet (1.8 to 3.5 meters) on consumer satellite dishes, although larger ones also can be used. For satellite communications, the microwave frequencies of the C band perform better under adverse weather conditions in comparison with the Ku band
to 14.5 GHz), microwave frequencies used by other communication satellite
s. Rain fade
– the collective name for the negative effects of adverse weather conditions on transmission – is mostly a consequence of precipitation
and moisture in the air
Other uses of C band frequencies
The C band also includes the 5.8 GHz ISM band
between 5.725 - 5.875 GHz, which is used for medical and industrial heating applications and many unlicensed short range microwave communication systems, such as cordless phone
s, baby monitor
s, and keyless entry
systems for vehicles. The C-band frequencies of 5.4 GHz band .15 to 5.35 GHz, 5.47 to 5.725 GHz, or 5.725 to 5.875 GHz, depending on the region of the world
are used for IEEE 802.11a Wi-Fi
wireless computer networks.
The C-Band Alliance was an industry consortium of four large communications satellite
operators in 2018–2020.
In response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking of July 2018 from the US Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) to make the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz spectrum available for next-generation terrestrial fixed and mobile broadband
services, the C-Band Alliance (CBA) was established in September 2018 by the four satellite operators—Intelsat
—that provide the majority of C-band satellite services in the US, including media distribution reaching 100 million US households. The consortium made a proposal to the FCC to act as a facilitator for the clearing and repurposing of a 200 MHz portion of C-band spectrum to accelerate the deployment of next generation 5G
services, while protecting incumbent users and their content distribution and data networks in the US from potential interference.
The C-Band Alliance lobbied for a private sale, but the FCC and some members of Congress
wanted an auction
. In November 2019, the FCC announced that an auction was planned, which could happen as soon as 2020. Cable operators wanted to be compensated for the loss of 200 MHz, which would not include a guard band of 20 MHz to prevent interference.
By late 2019, the commercial alliance had weakened. Eutelsat formally pulled out of the consortium in September 2019 over internal disagreements.
[ By February 2020, it became even less of a factor in C-band spectrum reallocation as Intelsat pulled out of the alliance and communicated to the FCC that the C-Band Alliance was dead. Among other claims, Intelsat argued that it was obvious that the FCC was already treating each satellite operator individually and that it therefore made business sense for each company to respond to the FCC from its own commercial perspective.]
One of the major members of the C-Band Alliance, Intelsat, filed for bankruptcy on 14 May 2020, just before the new 5G spectrum auctions were to take place, with over in total debt. Public information showed that the company had been considering bankruptcy protection from at least as early as February 2020. [https://www.satellitetoday.com/business/2020/02/05/intelsat-reportedly-hires-bankruptcy-firm/]
5 February 2020, accessed 14 May 2020.
Differences in frequency range by geographic area
Slight variations in the assignments of C-band frequencies have been approved for use in various parts of the world, depending on their locations in the three ITU radio regions. Note that one region includes all of Europe and Africa, plus all of Russia; a second includes all of the Americas, and the third region includes all of Asia outside of Russia, plus Australia and New Zealand. This latter region is the most populous one, since it includes China, India, Pakistan, Japan, and Southeast Asia.
The Radio Regulations of the International Telecommunication Union allow amateur radio operations in the frequency range 5.650 to 5.925 GHz, and amateur satellite operations are allowed in the ranges 5.830 to 5.850 GHz for down-links and 5.650 to 5.670 GHz for up-links. This is known as the 5-centimeter band by amateurs and the C band by AMSAT.
Particle accelerators may be powered by C-band RF sources. The frequencies are then standardized at 5.996 GHz (Europe) or 5.712 GHz (US), which is the second harmonic of S band.
In February 2020, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission adopted rules for the C-band at 3.7-4.2 GHz that allocated the lower 280 megahertz of the band, at 3.7-3.98 GHz, for terrestrial wireless use. Existing satellite operators will have to repack their operations into the upper 200 megahertz of the band from 4.0-4.2 GHz, and there is a 20-megahertz guard band at 3.98-4.0 GHz.
Licenses to use the 3.7-3.98GHz band are to be auctioned in December 2020.
The VSAT Installation Manual Video Presentation shows examples of the arrangement of the Feed for c-band polarization requirements
VSAT Installation Manual with explanation of c-band polarization requirements for a VSAT