FCC Releases Rules to Hold 5G Auction Next Year
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 | Comments

The FCC took steps toward a 5G spectrum auction in 2019 by adopting new rules around availability of high-band millimeter wave spectrum for the next generation of wireless connectivity.

The airwaves in the combined upper 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands are the largest amount of contiguous spectrum available for wireless service in the millimeter wave bands — 2,400 megahertz in total — while the 47 GHz band provides an additional 1,000 megahertz of spectrum.

Specifically, the fourth report and order modifies the band plans for the upper 37, 39 and 47 GHz bands from 200 megahertz blocks to 100 megahertz blocks to be licensed by partial economic area, which will facilitate the simultaneous auction of licenses in the three bands. The rules also adopt an incentive auction mechanism that will offer contiguous blocks of spectrum throughout the three bands, while preserving spectrum usage rights for existing licensees and adopts a pre-auction process that allows incumbent licensees to rationalize their holdings.

The incentive auction of these spectrum bands will have two phases: a clock phase in which bidders may bid on generic license blocks and an assignment phase in which clock phase winners may bid on specific frequencies. Incentive payments will be offered to incumbents that choose to relinquish their spectrum usage rights to make new licenses available.

New entrants and participating incumbents may bid for new licenses. Incumbents that bid for new licenses may use “vouchers” equivalent to their existing holdings for credit toward the amount they bid in the auction. For an incumbent that chooses not to relinquish all its existing rights, the order provides methods to modify the incumbent’s licenses so that they align with the band plan and service areas adopted by the commission.

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