FCC reveals 5G plan progress

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In a blog leaning heavily on analogies with blockbuster movie Top Gun and its ‘Need for Speed’ tagline, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has set out the Commission’s activities in executing the 5G FAST Plan — a comprehensive strategy for advancing American leadership in 5G, as well as updating progress on its forthcoming C-band auction.

“We want to ensure the United States is the first-mover in 5G innovation so we can attract the innovation, investment, talent, and other benefits that come with global leadership (or as Slider more colloquially said in Top Gun: ‘Remember boys, no points for second place’),” he writes. “Along these lines, one of the Commission’s most significant actions to date was our decision to clear the lower 280 megahertz of the C-band (3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz) and make this spectrum available for 5G. This was the Commission’s biggest move ever to reallocate mid-band spectrum, which is particularly appealing for 5G because it combines good geographic coverage with good capacity,” he suggests.

“When we crafted our rules for repurposing the C-band, we prioritised making this spectrum available for 5G as quickly as possible. That’s why we rejected calls to do literally nothing until Congress passed a law on the subject (breaking news: it still hasn’t). That’s why we included accelerated relocation payments to incumbent satellite operators that will make spectrum available for 5G two to four years earlier than otherwise would have been the case,” he advises. “And that’s why we proposed an aggressive schedule for holding an auction within the calendar year. Even though the Commission effectively shut down our headquarters less than a month after we adopted the C-band Order, we’re fully on track and sticking to the schedule,” he declares.

“Today, I circulated final draft procedures for a C-band auction to be held on December 8, 2020, and we will vote on them at our August meeting. They spell out the many details of the auction — competitive bidding procedures, application requirements, and deadlines governing participation in Auction 107. To spur the deployment of ultra-fast, world-leading 5G networks, we need to make C-band spectrum (among other spectrum bands) available as quickly as possible. If the Commission adopts this plan to launch this auction in December, barely nine months after adopting rules, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing,” he states.

Pai says that the Commission’s August agenda demonstrates that the FCC staff will not allow their work to be significantly slowed down by the pandemic. “I am grateful for their talent and determination. To my remarkable colleagues, I say: ‘You can be my wingman any time’,” he concludes.


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