FCC Sets Date for Next 5G Spectrum Auction

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set the date for the second 5G-related spectrum auction in the US -- March 14, 2019.

The auction comes hard on the heels of the FCC's 28GHz millimeter wave auction, which ended January 25. The FCC will not release the names of the winners of either the 24GHz auction, or the previous 28GHz auction, until the 24GHz auction process is completed. (See The FCC Closes First 5G Auction With $703M in Bids.)

Participants in the upcoming auction are expected to be the usual mobile suspects, such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), T-Mobile US Inc. and Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN), cable company Cox Communications Inc. , as well as millimeter wave-focused fixed wireless startup Starry Inc. . (See Broadband Incumbents Should Be 'a Little Bit Nervous' About Starry – Analyst .)

Crucially, the available 24GHz licenses cover major metro areas, unlike the 28GHz auction. Spectrum specialists AllNet Insights & Analytics have said that the 24GHz auction could raise between $2.4 billion to $5.6 billion in bids -- a hefty potential chunk of change compared to the $703 million raised from the 28GHz auction. (See Forget 28GHz, the 24GHz Auction Is the One to Watch.)

There will, however, be a crucial question for potential 24GHz users going forward. Silicon vendors will need to deliver 24GHz chips and other RF components (antennas) to support 24GHz products, which lag product development in the 28GHz and 39GHz bands.

So, such 24GHz chipsets will need to be developed and built. "24GHz chipsets aren't just lying around," Earl Lum of EJL Wireless Research LLC told me this week.

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) have not yet addressed Light Reading's 24GHz questions.

That doesn't mean that vendors aren't paying attention to the spectrum. Brian Deutsch, CEO of wireless startup Pivotal Commware, which makes 28GHz repeaters for 5G networks, says that Pivotal has already begun working on the 39GHz and 24GHz bands, and has road-mapped other bands. (See Pivotal Commware CEO Expects 5G Repeaters in Field in Q1 2019.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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