FCC Preps Next Spectrum Auction

The FCC is expected this week to announce the start of the next wireless spectrum auction, the 24 GHz auction, comprising 2,909 licenses divided up by partial economic areas.It was scheduled to launch following the 28 GHz auction that wrapped up last week, bringing in $702,572,410 for 2,965 licenses.

Both auctions are intended to free up more spectrum for next generation (5G) broadband, part of the FCC's Spectrum Frontiers proceeding. The 24 GHz spectrum is divided into a lower and higher portion, the lower (24.25 – 24.45 GHz and 24.75 – 25.25 GHz) being licenses as two, 100-MHz blocks and the upper (24.75 – 25.25 GHz) licenses as five, 100 MHz blocks.The FCC approved 58 bidders for the spectrum, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Frontier and Cox.

Rural service providers and small businesses can get a 15% bidding discount as the FCC strives to close the rural digital divide. To qualify, a rural bidder must have fewer than 250,000 combined wireless, wireline, broadband, and cable and serve a predominately rural constituency.

A small business must have less than $55 million annual gross revenues for the preceeding three years. Even smaller businesses--under $20 million for the preceding three years--can get a 25% credit.License periods will be no more than 10 years and there are buildout requirements. The FCC voted last June to adopt an interoperability requirement for the entire 24-GHz band and a sharing framework to allow use of a portion of the 24-GHz band for terrestrial wireless operations and Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) earth stations.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.