FCC Chairman Ajit Pai offered a way to release 100 MHz more mid-band spectrum for 5G. Tuesday, he circulated among his colleagues for a vote a draft suggestion that would take steps toward making the 3.45-3.55 GHz band available for commercial use throughout the contiguous U.S. He hopes to have the item on the September 30 agency meeting agenda.
If adopted, the item would be a step toward satisfying Congress’s directive to make new spectrum available for flexible use and to work with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to evaluate the feasibility of allowing commercial use in this band.
The draft includes language to remove the secondary, non-federal allocations from the 3.3-3.55 GHz band, as the Commission proposed to do last year. The item also includes a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on proposed changes to the spectrum to enable commercial use and coordination between federal and non-federal users. This follows the August 10 announcement by the White House and the Department of Defense that DoD operations in the band could accommodate commercial 5G operations.
Pai urged his colleagues to vote favorably: “With this 3.45 GHz band proposal, the upcoming C-band auction of 280 megahertz of spectrum, and the recently completed auction for Priority Access Licenses in the 3.5 GHz band, the Commission is on track to make a wide swath of 530 megahertz of continuous mid-band spectrum available for 5G.. Combined with our work to make low- and high-band spectrum available for flexible use as well as our successful efforts to expedite the deployment of wireless infrastructure and fiber, we are establishing a strong foundation for wireless innovation and investment.”