The Federal Communications Commission kicked off a mid-band spectrum auction to support next-generation wireless services – including 5G – in the 3.45 GHz band. Auction 110 will make available 100 megahertz of contiguous mid-band spectrum for commercial use in 2021. “We are moving with record speed and collaboration to free up more mid-band spectrum for 5G,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “These airwaves are a critical part of unlocking the 5G promise everywhere in the country." Bidding in the first phase of the auction, the clock phase, kicked off at 10 am EST.
The National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA)’s 2021 Spectrum Policy Symposium brought together key policymakers and industry experts to explore how a “whole of government” approach to spectrum policy can address US priorities for 21st-century global leadership. Each keynote speaker highlighted the importance of spectrum to the economy, US technological leadership, innovation, and federal government missions.
AT&T gets a chance to close a 5G airwaves gap with its rivals as bidding begins in a US auction of frequencies for ultrafast wireless service that’s expected to attract $25 billion in bids. The third-largest US wireless carrier is predicted to be the top bidder in the spectrum auction run by the Federal Communications Commission. Mobile leaders Verizon and T-Mobile are also ready to take part in the sale that starts October 5, as is Dish Network. The airwaves being sold are in the 3.45-3.55 GHz range, and are known as midband frequencies.
Reps Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) introduced the Spectrum Innovation Act (H.R.5378) to free up new airwaves for wireless broadband use by the public. The Spectrum Innovation Act would ensure faster speeds and more responsive networks for consumers. In addition to up to 200 megahertz of spectrum auctioned for mobile broadband, this bill would help usher in new, innovative wireless uses through opportunistic and other flexible spectrum uses.
Small wireless carriers expressed dissatisfaction and concern about several aspects of their business at the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) Annual Convention. They’re concerned that digital-divide money will all go toward fiber, that Universal Service Funds (USF) are drying up, that their spectrum needs are being ignored, and that they’ve missed the boat on private wireless.
Although he’d be all for it, former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is doubtful that a new spectrum screen would be implemented anytime soon, including before upcoming 5G mid-band spectrum auctions. AT&T filed a petition in September 2021 asking the FCC to establish a mid-band spectrum screen, pointing to T-Mobile’s vast 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum holdings thanks in large part to its merger with Sprint.
The next US mid-band spectrum auction is set to start on October 5 for spectrum in the 3.45 GHz range. The deadline to resubmit incomplete applications and upfront payments was September 7, so the Federal Communications Commission should soon be releasing a final list of participating bidders. AT&T, Dish and T-Mobile all submitted applications, while Verizon was on the incomplete list as of the initial filing deadline. AT&T appears to be favored to spend the most on 3.45 GHz spectrum, followed by T-Mobile and Dish.
The biggest threat to competition and consumers in our time is the collusion of big business and big government. As a case in point, see how AT&T is urging the Federal Communications Commission to hobble rival T-Mobile. AT&T asked the FCC to limit how much mid-band spectrum providers can acquire in future government auctions. T-Mobile acquired loads of mid-band when it purchased Sprint in 2020.
Louisiana passed extensive legislation in the past two sessions to help bridge the digital divide, including a plan to auction off valuable communications spectrum for broadband access. HB465 tasks the recently created Office of Broadband and Connectivity with supervising an auction of parts of the 4.9GHz band. The Federal Communications Commission voted in 2020 to allow every state to lease some of this spectrum to help expand broadband development. A state task force recommended to the Louisiana Legisla
The Federal Communications Commission released a roster of applicants for participation in the next US mid-band spectrum auction. Auction 110, set to start October 5, is offering up to 4,060 flexible-use licenses with 100-megahertz in the 3.45-3.55 GHz range across the contiguous US. No bidder can win more than 40-megahertz of spectrum. According to the FCC's application list, 26 applications are completed and 16 remain incomplete, for a total of 42 potential bidders.