FCC to Vote on C-Band Auction Procedures in August

The FCC will vote at its August meeting on the final framework for its December C-Band satellite spectrum auction.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai blogged the news, suggesting the FCC was getting the spectrum freed up for 5G to help win the race to that new wireless tech, contrasting that to Congress. "That’s why we rejected calls to do literally nothing until Congress passed a law on the subject," he said, adding: "(breaking news: it still hasn’t)."

In February, the FCC voted to free up 280 MHz in the lower portion of the band for auction to wireless carriers for terrestrial 5G and proposed an auction framework on which it sought comment.

The C-band is the midband spectrum currently used by satellite operators to deliver network programming to broadcasters and cable operators. The auction is the FCC's latest move to free up spectrum for 5G. The commission is under pressure to free up more midband, 5G "beachfront," spectrum given its recent focus on high-band spectrum.

Related: FCC Rejects Second Petition to Stay C-Band Order

The FCC is providing accelerated payments for satellite operators who have agreed to exit the spectrum early, and will pay earth station operators for their repack, either based on their actual costs or on a lump sum beforehand.

"Today, I circulated final draft procedures for a C-band auction to be held on Dec. 8, 2020, and we will vote on them at our August meeting," said Pai. "They spell out the many details of the auction — competitive bidding procedures, application requirements, and deadlines governing participation in Auction 107. To spur the deployment of ultra-fast, world-leading 5G networks, we need to make C-band spectrum (among other spectrum bands) available as quickly as possible. If the Commission adopts this plan to launch this auction in December, barely nine months after adopting rules, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing."

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.