The FCC today proposed to begin conducting an auction of spectrum in the 28 GHz band on November 14. A 24 GHz auction would commence as soon as the 28 GHz auction is completed. Both spectrum bands are considered well suited for fifth-generation 5G wireless deployments.
The proposed plans for the auctions, sometimes referred to as “Spectrum Frontiers” auctions, came in the form of a public notice adopted at today’s FCC meeting. The FCC is seeking comment on the proposal.
5G Spectrum Auction Plans
The proposed 28 GHz auction would be comprised of two 425-MHz-blocks of spectrum to be auctioned on a county-by-county basis, said officials at today’s monthly FCC meeting. The 24 GHz auction would consist of seven 100-MHz spectrum blocks to be auctioned on a partial economic area (PEA) basis. PEA license areas are considerably larger than counties.
The 28 GHz auction, to be known as auction 101, would use a simultaneous multi-round auction format. The 24 GHz auction, to be known as auction 102, would use clock bidding.
The public notice also includes a proposed cap on bidding credits of $25 million for small businesses and $10 million for rural service providers.
The proposed 425-MHz spectrum blocks in the 28 GHz band are substantially wider than those that have been offered in previous spectrum auctions and should be able to support high bandwidth services, albeit over relatively short distances. AT&T recently achieved speeds above 1 Gbps using 400 MHz of spectrum in high frequency millimeter wave bands over distances as great as 900 feet.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly at today’s FCC meeting called the proposed 28 GHz and 24 GHz auction plans a “harbinger of good things to come,” noting that the FCC also expects to free up spectrum in other GHz bands.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel suggested that the commission should create a calendar indicating the spectrum bands it plans to auction and when it plans to auction specific bands. “We need to make our plans transparent” to help spur 5G deployment, she said.