FCC’s First 5G Mid-Band Spectrum Auction Underway


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The FCC began its first auction of licenses for prime, mid-band spectrum suitable for 5G on Thursday. The auction offers county-based Priority Access Licenses in the 3550-3650 MHz band, meant to encourage the rapid deployment of next-generation wireless networks.

More than 270 qualified bidders, a record number according to the FCC, can take part. Gross bids totaled $357,344,200 in round one, which began at 10 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. Eastern. Two rounds of bidding are slated for today, beginning at noon and ending at 4 p.m.

 “Today, we celebrate the door opening to a wide array of potential bidders in the FCC’s CBRS spectrum auction. The auction “magic” aims to efficiently allocate 70 megahertz per county for innovative wireless services,” said FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly. 

This auction, designated as Auction 105, offers seven Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in each county-based license area, for a total of 22,631 PALs nationwide—the largest number of flexible-use spectrum licenses ever made available for bidding in a single auction. Each PAL consists of a 10-megahertz unpaired channel in the 3.55-3.65 GHz band.

The FCC rules for the 3.5 GHz spectrum band established a dynamic, three-tiered, hierarchical framework to coordinate shared federal and non-federal uses. Under this framework, incumbent users have the highest priority, followed by Priority Access Licensees, and then General Authorized Access users.

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