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FCC Prepares for Millimeter Wave Spectrum Auctions

FCC Prepares for Millimeter Wave Spectrum Auctions

May 1, 2018

The Federal Communications Commission released a Public Notice seeking comment on bidding procedures for the 28 GHz and 24 GHz band spectrum auctions—the first ever millimeter-wave auctions in the United States.  The 28 GHz band auction is scheduled to begin November 14, 2018, with the 24 GHz band auction following shortly thereafter. 

In total, the FCC plans to auction 5,986 Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) licenses: 3,074 county-based licenses in the 28 GHz band and 2,912 PEA-based licenses in the 24 GHz band.  The agency established the new UMFUS licensing framework as part of its Spectrum Frontiers proceeding to enable flexible use licensing in millimeter wave bands.  In its 2016 Spectrum Frontiers Order, the FCC made nearly 11 GHz of millimeter wave band spectrum available for mobile use.  And in its 2017 Spectrum Frontiers Order (summarized here), the Commission made an additional 1,700 MHz of spectrum in the 24 GHz and 47 GHz bands available for terrestrial wireless use.  These licenses are intended to support fast, low-latency, high-capacity broadband services needed to support a 5G connected world.      

Congress broke a logjam at the FCC by including a provision in the omnibus funding bill (telecom provisions summarized here) to allow the FCC to place bidders’ deposits in a Treasury Department fund.  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had previously claimed that technicalities in the existing deposit process prevented the agency from holding spectrum auctions, and Congress needed to pass legislation by May 13th fixing the issue for the FCC to hold an auction in November.       

Comments responding to the Public Notice are due May 9, 2018, and reply comments are due May 23, 2018.  A detailed summary of the item is available here.

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