FCC proposes freeing up more 5G spectrum

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FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has shared with her colleagues a draft Order that would make much-needed mid-band spectrum available for 5G. If adopted at the Commission’s March 17th Open Meeting, 100 megahertz of mid-band spectrum in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band would be made available for auction and 5G deployment across the contiguous US.

The Acting Chairwoman also shared with her colleagues a proposed Public Notice seeking comment on procedures for this auction (Auction 110), in which bidding would begin in early October 2021. According to the FCC, 5G will foster new economic activity, unlocking an estimated 4.5 million new jobs and adding $1.5 trillion in economic growth.

“The promise of 5G means new and improved services and applications for consumers and businesses alike. This means not only faster download speeds, but also enabling digital tools we can’t even imagine yet,” said Rosenworcel. “We need to deliver the 5G that the American people were promised. That means a 5G that is fast, secure, resilient, and—most importantly—available across the country. This important auction is a crucial step toward making that a reality. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this proposal.”

The proposed new rules, if adopted, would allocate the 3.45-3.55 GHz spectrum band for flexible-use service. It would establish a framework for coordination of non-federal and federal use and establish a band plan, as well as technical, licensing, and competitive bidding rules for the band. Lastly, it would complete the relocation of non-federal radiolocation operators to the 2.9-3.0 GHz band and the sunset of amateur use in the 3.3-3.5 GHz band.

The 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act included a provision, the Beat CHINA for 5G Act of 2020, which required the Commission to commence a system of competitive bidding for licenses in the 3.45 GHz band by the end of this year. The latest proposal positions the agency to meet this obligation.

In addition, this proposal would be an important step in fulfilling Congress’s directive in the MOBILE NOW Act for the FCC to work with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration – the Executive Branch agency that is principally responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information policy issues – to evaluate the feasibility of allowing commercial use in the 3.1-3.55 GHz band.


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