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C-Band 5G Spectrum Auction Begins

Pai highlights pace of process, “years ahead of schedule”

5G technology
An image from the FCC’s “5G FAST Plan” web page

The Federal Communications Commission has begun its largest auction of mid-band 5G spectrum.

With legacy occupants now in the process of clearing out, the commission is making “280 megahertz of prime mid-band spectrum in the 3.7–3.98 GHz band” available.

Chairman Ajit Pai said the FCC “is paving the way for Americans to receive fast 5G wireless services. Together with the recent success of our 3.5 GHz band auction, our work to auction the 2.5 GHz and 3.45 GHz bands in 2021, and the other groundbreaking spectrum auctions we’ve held since 2017, our 5G FAST Plan is in full swing.”

Satellite companies, including the ones that serve the radio broadcast industry, are moving their services to different frequencies, a process that has involved broadcasters having to adjust their own infrastructure. The commission said the first phase of the repack of satellite operators will be done by this time next year, and the second will conclude by December of 2023.

Pai highlighted the pace of the process, saying the mid-band spectrum “will be available to deliver next-generation connectivity to American consumers and businesses years ahead of schedule.”

“This spectrum holds the potential to be prime spectrum for 5G services given its combination of geographic coverage and capacity, and the FCC’s auction procedures will ensure the assignment to auction winners of contiguous spectrum blocks allowing wide channel bandwidths that support 5G deployment,” the FCC stated.