FCC Readies Spectrum Auctions in 28-GHz, 24-GHz Bands

Assuming the U.S. Congress clarifies rules on upfront payments, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will hold spectrum auctions in the 28-GHz and then 24-GHz bands in November 2018, for 5G network use.


“It is my intention for the United States to hold an auction beginning this November of spectrum in the 28 GHz band, followed immediately thereafter by an auction of spectrum in the 24 GHz band,” said Ajit Pai, FCC chairman.


That will follow auctions of 600-MHz spectrum, opening up spectrum sharing for 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5-GHz band.


“I intend to propose the next steps needed to make the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band available for commercial terrestrial use,” said Pai.


In addition to those spectrum moves, Pai also noted that the FCC Spectrum Frontiers Order opened up nearly 11 GHz of spectrum in the bands above 24 GHz for mobile use.


“We followed up by making an additional 1,700 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum in the 24 and 47 GHz bands available for terrestrial 5G wireless use,” said Pai. “Last year, we began to explore unlicensed use in the 6 GHz band.”


Pai says the FCC also is moving to remove barriers to wireline deployment, which addresses issues like easier and cheaper ways to attach equipment to utility poles, said Pai. “We’ve also updated our rules for high-speed, dedicated services by lifting rate regulation where appropriate.”


“In sum, we are creating huge incentives for the private sector to invest in the 21st-century networks used for backhaul,” he said.


All that new spectrum represents at least an  order of magnitude more spectrum than presently is available for all mobile service providers. Combined with small cell architectures and spectrum aggregation, there could be two orders of magnitude more effective spectrum available for 5G use.

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