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FCC Targets Mid-Band Spectrum Auction for 5G in October

By Rachel Jewett | February 23, 2021
Federal Communications Commission. Photo: FCC

Federal Communications Commission. Photo: FCC

FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has put together a draft order to auction mid-band spectrum in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band for 5G deployment through an auction that would begin in early October of this year.

The FCC announced Tuesday that the proposed rules would allocate the 3.45-3.55 GHz spectrum band for flexible-use service. It would establish a framework for coordination of non-federal and federal use and establish a band plan, and technical, licensing, and competitive bidding rules for the band.

The mid-band spectrum is primarily military use, and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) operates high-powered defense radar systems on fixed, mobile, shipborne, and airborne platforms in this band.

This action comes after the FCC was directed in the Beat CHINA for 5G Act of 2020 to commence a system of competitive bidding for licenses in the 3.45 GHz band by the end of this year. In August, the Trump administration said it planned to make the section of military-use mid-band spectrum available to the commercial sector, with plans to begin auctioning it off in December 2021 and ready for use by mid-2022.

“This order demonstrates what’s possible when we work together — it is the result of moving with unprecedented speed and in collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Defense. Most importantly, we propose to get started quickly — with an auction start date in early October,” Rosenworcel said in the announcement.