FCC Readies Next 5G Auction so Service Reaches More Americans

5G iPhone 12

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is preparing a 5G auction that will begin in October. It will offer frequencies that will cover millions of more Americans (via Bloomberg).

October 2021 5G Auction

With a 4-0 vote, the commission created a set of rules [PDF] that lays out the rules. Here’s what it proposes:

  • Make 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band available for flexible use wireless services throughout the contiguous United States;
  • Add a co-primary, non-federal fixed and mobile (except aeronautical mobile) allocation to the band;
  • Create a regime to coordinate non-federal and federal use of spectrum by adopting Cooperative Planning Areas and Periodic Use Areas and establishing coordination procedures;
  • Adopt a band plan and technical, licensing, and competitive bidding rules for the 3.45 GHz band, including performance requirements benchmarks intended to promote rapid deployment;
  • Require non-federal radiolocation operators to sunset operations within 180 days after the grant of new flexible-use licenses and provide for reimbursement of reasonable relocation costs; and
  • Require amateur operators to cease operations in the 3.45 GHz band within 90 days of the public notice announcing the close of the auction, while allowing those operations to continue in the 3.3- 3.45 GHz portion of the band pending future Commission action in that spectrum.

The impetus for this auction, which is the third of its kind in just over a year, was The Beat China by Harnessing Important, National Airwaves for 5G Act of 2020, included in the 2021 omnibus spending bill.

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