FCC kicks off 5G auction

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The US Federal Communications Commission is undertaking its first-ever high-band 5G spectrum auction. Bidding is beginning on spectrum in the 28 GHz band (Auction 101), which will be followed by bidding for spectrum in the 24 GHz band (Auction 102).

The FCC is making 1.55 gigahertz of spectrum available through these two auctions. These auctions will be followed by a 2019 auction of three more millimeters-wave spectrum bands—37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz.

“Today’s spectrum auction shows that America is continuing to lead the world in 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity,” declared FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “These airwaves will be critical in deploying 5G services and applications. And we’re not stopping there. Between the auctions this year and next, the FCC will push almost 5 gigahertz of spectrum into the commercial marketplace over the course of the next 15 months. To put that in perspective, that is more spectrum than is currently used for terrestrial mobile broadband by all wireless service providers combined.”

“We will continue to pursue an aggressive spectrum strategy, a key component—along with wireless infrastructure deployment and regulatory modernisation—of the FCC’s plan to Facilitate America’s Superiority in 5G Technology. The 5G FAST plan is critical to boosting economic growth, job creation, and America’s global competitiveness, and we’ll continue to execute on this important national priority.”

Auction 101: The auction of the licences in the 28 GHz band will employ the standard simultaneous multiple round auction format. The 28 GHz licences will be offered in two 425 megahertz blocks by county.

Auction 102: The auction of the licences in the 24 GHz band will employ a clock auction format, beginning with a clock phase that will allow bidding on generic blocks in each Partial Economic Area in successive bidding rounds. There will then be an assignment phase to allow winners of the generic blocks to bid for frequency-specific licence assignments. The 24 GHz licences will be offered in seven 100 megahertz blocks.


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