FCC Opens 3.45 – 3.55 GHz Band for Auction, Seeks Comment on Auction Rules
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | Comments

The FCC took action to open up mid-band spectrum in the 3.45 – 3.55 GHz band available to auction to facilitate 5G deployment across the contiguous United States.

Last year’s Consolidated Appropriations Act required the commission to commence a system of competitive bidding for licenses in the 3.45 – 3.55 GHz band by the end of this year. The action taken positions the agency to meet this obligation, and it marks progress towards fulfilling Congress’s directive in the MOBILE NOW Act for the FCC to work with National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to evaluate the feasibility of allowing commercial use in the 3.1 – 3.55 GHz band.

The adopted rules reallocate 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band for flexible use wireless services. This order also establishes a framework for the 3.45 GHz band that will enable robust commercial use by an array of service providers while also ensuring that federal incumbents are still protected from harmful interference where and when they require continued access to the band.

The FCC also adopted a public notice seeking comment on procedures for the auction of the 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.45 band. Bidding in Auction 110 is expected to begin in early October.

Auction 110 will offer up to 100 megahertz of spectrum divided into 10 block of 10 MHz licensed by geographic areas known as partial economic areas (PEAs), for a total of 4,060 flexible-use licenses across the contiguous United States.

The proposed auction procedures would include a clock phase for bidding on generic blocks in each geographic area followed by an assignment phase for bidding on frequency-specific license assignments. The public notice proposes bidding credit caps and specific upfront payment and minimum opening bid amounts. Flexible-use licenses made available through this auction are subject to cooperative sharing requirements to protect federal incumbents, so the public notice proposes a reserve price of more than $14.7 billion in order to meet the requirement that auction proceeds cover the expected sharing and relocation costs for federal users in the band.

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