Industry News

FCC mmWave spectrum auction set for November


The FCC will conduct its first millimeter wave spectrum auction this November. With an eye toward the approaching 5G build-out, participants will bid for approximately 6,000 licenses, starting Nov. 14 with the 28 GHz band, followed by the 24 GHz band.

Mobile operators have been lobbying the FCC to open up more and more spectrum in recent years, and the auction figures to be the first of many more to come.

Thus, as expected, this news was well received in the wireless industry.

Citing these bands as “an important piece in the mix of spectrum that will be required to make 5G a reality,” AT&T’s executive vice president of regulatory and state external affairs, Joan Marsh, praised the development.

Similarly, CTIA applauded “the FCC for moving forward.”

Aside from the proceedings, the auction will give the industry insight into how much millimeter wave spectrum will cost in the coming years. So far, the 700 MHz of the 24 GHz band will be initially valued at $438 million, cheaper than previous higher frequency spectrum auction prices.

However, there is room for improvement in the process, at least in the eyes of the industry, many of whom had previously lobbied for an en masse auction of 28 GHz, 24 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz.

While the 24 GHz auction will cover the entire nation, the 28 GHz auction is far less comprehensive. It covers less than half of the nation’s counties, and many of these counties are rural and less populated. In fact, this amounts to geographical coverage for only a little more than one-fifth of America’s population. This problem is exacerbated by millimeter wave’s comparatively short range.

All told, it remains to be seen in November whether auction participants will drive up the price – or whether interest could be lackluster, as in the case of past auctions of 600 MHz band spectrum.




About Jesse Petrilla

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