FCC Preps Third 5G Spectrum Auction

The FCC is teeing up its third high-band (millimeter wave) spectrum auction of the year, according to FCC chair Ajit Pai, blogging about the agenda for the upcoming April 12 meeting, this one possibly with a new structural twist.

The FCC will issue a public notice with proposals and questions about how it should structure an auction of the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz spectrum bands, the latest in its ongoing effort to free up more spectrum for 5G.

The FCC has already concluded an auction of the 28 GHZ band and is in the midst of an auction of 24 GHz spectrum.

The twist is that the commission is considering using an ascending clock auction for generic blocks of spectrum, followed by a sealed-bid assignment phase auction for specific frequencies. Currently that follow-on auction is not sealed bid.

The plan is to offer the spectrum in 100 MHz blocks with license sizes by partial economic area. It represents 2,400 MHz of of contiguous spectrum, the largest such swath in the millimeter wave bands, the chairman points out, bringing the total of millimeter wave spectrum being auctioned this year to almost five GHz.

The chairman has also circulated a proposal to be voted at the meeting to allow the Defense Department to share that upper 37 GHz band spectrum in "limited circumstances."

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.