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FCC Takes Steps to Make More Mid-Band Spectrum Available for 5G

By | September 10, 2020
Federal Communications Commission. Photo: FCC

Federal Communications Commission. Photo: FCC

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a draft order to make the 3.45-3.55 GHz band available for commercial 5G use throughout the contiguous United States. The mid-band spectrum is primarily military use, and the U.S. Department of Defense operates high-powered defense radar systems on fixed, mobile, shipborne, and airborne platforms in this band.

The FCC’s announcement came after the White House said in August 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 item will be on the agenda of the FCC’s Sept. 30 meeting. If approved, the order will adopt the Commission’s 2019 proposal to remove the secondary, non-federal allocations from the 3.3-3.55 GHz band as a first step toward sharing between federal incumbents and commercial operations. According to the draft order, this plan will allow agencies to file transition plans no later than April 2021, and for commercial operations to begin in early 2022.

“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,” Chairman Ajit Pai said in a Tuesday announcement, previewing the draft order.