FCC's 24 GHz Auction to Launch March 14

The FCC has made it official. The next in its series of 5G targeted spectrum auctions will begin March 14.

That is the auction of 24 GHz spectrum (auction 102) that was scheduled to begin after the 28 GHz auction (101) that closed last week. That auction brought in $702,572,410 for 2,965 licenses.

Upfront payments for bidders in the 24 GHz auction will be due Feb. 19. The 24 GHz auction comprises 2,909 licenses divided up by partial economic areas.

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. They must get their payments in by 6 p.m. Feb. 19.

The FCC will hold an online tutorial sometime before Feb. 15 and a mock auction on March 11.

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.

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.