FCC's Second 5G Spectrum Auction Ends With Bid Topping $2B

Dan Jones
5/29/2019
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The FCC has completed its second-ever high-band 5G auction, in the 24GHz band, pulling in over $2 billion in bids.

The auction raised 2,024,268,941 in bids, with 2904 of the 2909 licenses going to bidders. In contrast, the earlier 28GHz auction raised $703 million.

"American leadership in 5G means deploying more airwaves for the next generation of wireless connectivity," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. "By making more spectrum available, we'll ensure that American consumers reap the substantial benefits that 5G innovation will bring and we'll extend US leadership in 5G."

The FCC will name the winners of both the 24GHz and the 28GHz auction soon. It intends to start a third millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G auction on December 10, auctioning the upper 37GHz, 39GHz and 47GHz bands, making it the largest mmWave auction so far.

Why this matters
The 24GHz auction is the second millimeter wave 5G in the US. Millimeter wave spectrum, however, has not proved to be particularly successful at auction yet. Compare the $2.7 billion raised by both the 28GHz and 24GHz auctions combined in the US, with the $6.5 billion raised in Germany's recent 3.5GHz 5G "mid-band" auction. The US is still hashing out rules around its own planned mid-band (3.7GHz-4.2GHz) 5G C-band spectrum.

Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon have launched initial 5G networks in the US at 28GHz and 39GHz. But despite gigabit download speeds being recorded, signal propagation ranges from 2,000 feet down to just 500 feet have been reported, meaning that millimeter wave offers much less range than previous cellular communications systems.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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