5gThe eagerly anticipated auction of millimeter wave spectrum in the 28 GHz band will start November 14, the FCC said today. When that auction is completed, an auction of spectrum in the 24 GHz band will commence, the commission said. The bands targeted for the FCC millimeter wave spectrum auctions are expected to support 5G wireless services.

Also today, the FCC took steps to free up spectrum in the 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz bands for subsequent auctions.

FCC Millimeter Wave Spectrum Auctions
The auction of spectrum in the 28 GHz band is likely to be particularly attractive, as it will be comprised of two 425 MHz blocks. The wide swaths should enable network operators winning the spectrum to support high-speed services, albeit over relatively short distances. In trials using 400 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum, AT&T achieved mobile 5G wireless speeds above 1 Gbps over distances of nearly 500 feet.

Traditionally millimeter wave spectrum was defined to include spectrum bands above 30 GHz, but since the advent of 5G, the telecom industry has begun to consider somewhat lower frequency bands to be millimeter wave.

In keeping with the relatively short-range coverage but high-bandwidth and high-capacity potential of the 28 GHz band, the FCC plans to auction the 28 GHz licenses on a county-by-county basis.

The 24 GHz auction will be comprised of seven blocks, each comprised of 100 MHz of spectrum, the FCC said. As previously outlined, those licenses will be issued based on partial economic areas.

FCC action on the higher-frequency spectrum bands today came in the form of a further notice of proposed rulemaking that aims to:

  • Modify the 39 GHz, upper 37 GHz and 47 GHz band plans from 200 MHz- to 100 MHz-channels.
  • Establish an incentive auction that would offer contiguous blocks of spectrum throughout all three bands. The auction would have two phases, including a clock phase, in which participants would bid on generic license blocks and an assignment phase, in which clock phase winners would bid on specific frequencies.
  • Incentive payments would be offered to incumbent spectrum users that opt to relinquish their spectrum usage rights to make new licenses available.
  • Use a pre-auction voucher exchange to allow incumbent licensees to consolidate and rationalize their holdings before the auction.
  • Would repack any incumbent licensees that choose not to participate in the incentive auction

According to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the actions taken today will make 5 GHz of spectrum available over the next 17 months.

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