It looks like C-band spectrum will be auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission, not a group of satellite firms that want to auction the spectrum themselves. “I 've outlined four principles that the FCC must advance regarding C-band spectrum: we must (1) free up significant spectrum for 5G, (2) do so quickly, (3) generate revenue for the federal government, and (4) ensure continued delivery of services currently using the C-band.
Of those clauses, the tipping point was “generate revenue for the federal government.” The C-Band Alliance, composed of Intelsat, SES and Telesat, has proposed a private auction that allows them to keep the proceeds. Their argument has been that this would free up new spectrum faster than a government auction, in large part because of the court challenges by the firms themselves.
The counter argument has been that the spectrum belongs to the public, and the public treasury should benefit from its sale.
So it appears a public auction of 280 megahertz of the C-band is coming, though court challenges are probably inevitable on the part of the C-Band Alliance. As always, there are corresponding private interests whenever any public policy is proposed.