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US opens up 100MHz of mid-band spectrum for 5G

US government said a total 530MHz of contiguous mid-band spectrum from 3450MHz-3980MHz previously owned by the Pentagon is now being made available for 5G.

Anne Morris

August 11, 2020

3 Min Read
US opens up 100MHz of mid-band spectrum for 5G

The Department of Defense (DoD) said 100MHz of contiguous mid-band spectrum in the 3450MHz-3550MHz band will be available for 5G by the end of the summer.

Figure 1: Waste not: AMBIT was set up by the Pentagon and the White House to identify unused spectrum that could be turned over to 5G. (Source: David Mark from Pixabay) Waste not: AMBIT was set up by the Pentagon and the White House to identify unused spectrum that could be turned over to 5G. (Source: David Mark from Pixabay)

According to Dana Deasy, chief information officer at the DoD, the spectrum was cleared for 5G following a 15-week review.

It will be provided under a new spectrum-sharing framework that will also allow defense radar services to continue to use the frequencies.

Space saving
The 3450MHz-3550MHz band supports critical DoD radar operations, including high-powered defense radar systems on fixed, mobile, shipborne and airborne platforms.

America's Mid-Band Initiative Team (AMBIT) identified a contiguous, 100MHz segment that was available for sharing.

The newly available spectrum is set to be auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) once the service rules have been adopted, with some reports suggesting an auction could take place by December 2021.

The 3.6GHz band has been recognized internationally as a pioneer band for 5G, along with the 700MHz and 26GHz bands.

According to Analysys Mason, mid-band spectrum is the key to 5G networks because of its blend of capacity and range.

A study carried out by the research company earlier in 2020 on behalf of the CTIA showed that the US needed to effectively double its mid-band to keep pace with Japan, China, South Korea and other countries.

No stone unturned
The country has been making progress since then: The FCC is currently in the middle of the CBRS spectrum auction – dubbed Auction 105 – that will provide 70MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band.

The FCC has also adopted rules to auction 280MHz in the lower C-band (3.7GHz-3.98GHz) later in 2020.

Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.

As noted by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, "together with the spectrum being made available for 5G in the C-band as well as the 3.5GHz band, we are now on track to have a 530-megahertz swath of mid-band spectrum available for 5G from 3.45 to 3.98GHz."

"The FCC looks forward to moving quickly to adopt service rules for the 3.45GHz band and then hold an auction to bring this prime mid-band spectrum to market."

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Anne Morris

Contributing Editor, Light Reading

Anne Morris is a freelance journalist, editor and translator. She has been working in the telecommunications sector since 1996, when she joined the London-based team of Communications Week International as copy editor. Over the years she held the editor position at Total Telecom Online and Total Tele-com Magazine, eventually leaving to go freelance in 2010. Now living in France, she writes for a number of titles and also provides research work for analyst companies.

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