Advanced Television

FCC 5G auction raises $4.5bn

March 12, 2020

By Colin Mann

The FCC has announced the conclusion of bidding in Auction 103, which made 3,400 megahertz of millimetre-wave spectrum available in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. The auction had a total of $7,558,703,201 in net bids, with 28 bidders winning a total of 14,142 of 14,144, or more than 99.9 per cent, of available licences.

“The successful conclusion of Auction 103—the largest amount of spectrum offered in an auction in US history—is one more significant step the FCC has taken toward maintaining American leadership in 5G,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “A critical part of our 5G FAST plan is pushing more spectrum into the commercial marketplace. Last year, the FCC auctioned the 28 GHz and 24 GHz bands. All told, those two auctions and this one have made available almost five gigahertz of high-band spectrum for commercial use. To put that in perspective, that is more spectrum than is currently used for terrestrial mobile broadband by all wireless service providers in the United States combined. Auction 103 was a tremendous success, and we look forward to building on this positive result with the 3.5 GHz auction, which is scheduled to begin on June 25, and the C-band auction, which is scheduled to begin on December 8.”

Auction 103 offered licences made available, in part, because existing 39 GHz licensees committed to relinquish their 39 GHz spectrum usage rights in exchange for incentive payments determined by the bidding in Auction 103. The incentive payments for existing licensees totalled $3,084,172,898, leaving net proceeds for the auction of $4,474,530,303.

The FCC says it is dedicated to ensuring the United States leads the world in the development and deployment of 5G technologies. As Pai noted, the FCC will take additional steps in 2020 toward this mission.

Later in 2020, the FCC will hold two mid-band spectrum auctions—bidding in the 3.5 GHz auction begins on June 25th, and bidding in the 3.7 GHz auction (known as the C-band) is expected to begin on December 8th.

By making more low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum available, promoting the deployment of wireless infrastructure, and modernising regulations to advance fibre deployment—the three components of the FCC’s 5G FAST plan—the FCC says it is enabling American consumers to reap the substantial benefits that will come from the next generation of wireless connectivity.


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