Snow Day: 28 GHz Auction Suspended

What the government shutdown could not do father nature has managed--suspend the FCC's 28 GHz spectrum auction.

Due to the heavy snows that fell over the weekend, the FCC has shuttered the auction for a day. Auctions staffers have been working through the shutdown because they are not paid out of appropriations, but auction proceeds.

It will resume Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. on the same six-round schedule. That means the FCC will have to wait another day to move to stage three of the auction, where bidders are required to bid on 100% of the licenses they are eligible to bid. The FCC is looking to speed the close of the auction. It has another (234 GHz) auction that will start as soon as the 28 GHz auction wraps up.

The 28 GHz auction (auction 101) is offering two, 425 MHz, blocks divided into 3,072 Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) county-sized licenses in the 27.5–28.35 GHz band.

The FCC is looking to get spectrum into the hands of wireless broadband providers for 5G. There are no cable broadband providers in this auction, though Cox is lined up to bid in the 24 GHz auction that will begin as soon as this auction ends.

Together, there is more spectrum in both auctions than currently being used by all wireless carriers combined as the FCC tries to meet the needs of an "internet of everything" world.

The FCC concedes it has never pushed so much spectrum into the market at one time before (two 5G auctions in a row starting with the 28 GHz and the 24 GHz auction immediately thereafter, plus three spectrum auctions slated for later this yea, with a total of almost 5 GHz of spectrum being auctioned, or more than all the current carriers have combined.

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.