FCC votes to move forward on 3.45-3.55GHz spectrum auction
WASHINGTON – The Federal Communications Commission today adopted a Public Notice seeking comment on procedures for the auction of 100 megahertz of mid-band spectrum in the 3.45–3.55 GHz band that can be used to facilitate 5G deployment across the contiguous United States. Bidding in Auction 110 is expected to begin in early October 2021.
Wider 5G deployment means that more people in more places will be more connected. 5G will bring its users faster download speeds and lower latency and will open doors to new and innovative digital tools to benefit consumers. With speeds as much as 10 to 100 times faster than present networks, 5G networks will kickstart the next big digital transformation. The proposed application and bidding procedures in today’s notice represent another key step toward unleashing the spectrum that will fuel that transformation.
Auction 110 will offer up to 100 megahertz of spectrum divided into ten 10-megahertz blocks licensed by geographic areas known as Partial Economic Areas (PEAs), for a total of 4,060 flexible-use licenses across the contiguous United States. The proposed auction procedures would include a clock phase for bidding on generic blocks in each geographic area followed by an assignment phase for bidding on frequency-specific license assignments. The Public Notice proposes bidding credit caps and specific upfront payment and minimum opening bid amounts. Flexible-use licenses made available through this auction are subject to cooperative sharing requirements to protect federal incumbents, so the Public Notice proposes a reserve price of over $14.7 billion in order to meet the requirement that auction proceeds cover the expected sharing and relocation costs for federal users in the band.
Today’s Public Notice works in concert with new rules for the 3.45 GHz band that were also adopted today, establishing a framework for coordination of non-federal and federal use and establishing a band plan. In legislation passed last year, Congress required the Commission to commence a system of competitive bidding for licenses in the 3.45 GHz band by the end of 2021. Today’s actions position the Commission to fulfill that mandate.