In a speech at the National Press Club celebrating the 10th anniversary of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed a plan to dedicate proceeds from upcoming spectrum auctions toward a nationwide investment in digital, next-generation 911 services.
Nine of the nation’s leading digital equity organizations announced the launch of Airwaves for Equity, a coalition focused on asking Congress to dedicate the net proceeds from future spectrum auctions to support digital literacy and inclusion efforts.
In the past year, the growing demand to open America’s airwaves for 5G and next-generation connectivity has only increased, bringing national attention to spectrum’s role in closing the digital divide and solidifying global telecommunications leadership. Yet, as demand has increased, the availability of much-needed commercial spectrum has waned, putting more pressure on the nation’s spectrum experts at the Federal Communications Commission to identify and unleash different bands — like the 12 GHz spectrum band — for new uses.
The Federal Communications Commission announced winning bidders from its 5G spectrum auction of flexible-use licenses in the 3.45 GHz band. The winning bidder information is available in the Public Notice released by the FCC. Gross proceeds for the auction exceeded $22.5 billion.
The Federal Communications Commission announced the conclusion of bidding in the first phase of Auction 110, an auction of licenses in the 3.45 to 3.55 GHz band. In the clock phase, bidders won 4,041 of the 4,060 available generic blocks, and gross proceeds in the clock phase reached over $21.8 billion, which places Auction 110 among the highest-grossing auctions in FCC history.
The $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure package cleared by the House on November 5 includes a record $2.75 billion in state grants to help millions of Americans access and use technology—a great start, advocates say, but more is needed.
With little movement in the top markets and increases of only tens of millions of dollars per round in the rest of the country, the Federal Communications Commission is looking to get bidders in the 3.45-GHz midband spectrum auction off the sidelines and move toward the finish line. By round 85, the auction had raised $21,426,504,290 in gross bids. That is about 50 percent higher than the reserve price the FCC set of $14.775 billion to make sure the auction covers the price of relocating federal users of the 100 MHz of the band the Department of Defense agreed to share.
The National Spectrum Consortium, made up of hundreds of companies with a vested interest in freeing up more wireless spectrum, has launched an effort to work with the government to do just that. The consortium has launched the “Partnering to Advance Trusted and Holistic Spectrum Solutions (PATHSS) Task Group,” whose goal is to collaborate with the Department of Defense to find more midband to share.
The 3.45 GHz auction, which started October 5, completed 23 rounds on October 14, with bids tallying more than $4 billion. Demand started out high at the beginning of the month, but Auction 110 observers saw a large drop in demand on October 8. Actions over the past week suggest the auction is at risk of closing. If demand reaches supply before the minimum price of $14.8 billion is reached, the auction will fail, warn analysts at New Street Research. If things go south in a hurry, the outcome could be known by October 20.
Despite the pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission advanced major spectrum policy and auctions in 2020. Yet despite continued successes of commercial spectrum auctions in which market actors pay for the right to use the public’s resources, policymakers persist in giving away valuable resources to Big Tech. 5G licensed mid-band spectrum is projected to deliver $191.8 billion to the US economy over 7 years. Wi-Fi revenues over unlicensed spectrum over 6 years are projected to bring $153.76 billion. When adjusted on an annual per MHz basis, 5G spectrum is $0.59 and Wi-Fi, $0.13.