U.S. FCC launches 5G spectrum auction

Bidding for the on the 28 Ghz and 24 Ghz band in the 5G spectrum has begun in the U.S..

In a significant development, the Federal Communications Commission has launched the first high-band 5G spectrum auction as it works to clear space for next-generation networks.

Bidding on the 28 GHz band has begun on Wednesday. This will be followed by bidding for the 24 GHz band. The FCC is making 1.55 gigahertz of spectrum available and the auctions will be followed by a 2019 auction of three more millimeter-wave spectrum bands, including 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz.

“These airwaves will be critical in deploying 5G services and applications,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

5G networks are expected to be at least 100 times faster than current 4G networks and will have slash latency to less than one-thousandth of a second from the current one-hundredth of a second. However, the millimeter-wave spectrum cannot cover big geographic areas and will require significant installation of cell infrastructure.

According to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, the spectrum being auctioned will allow for “faster broadband to autonomous cars, from smart ag (agriculture) to telehealth.” He went on to add, the spectrum that is being auctioned over the next 15 months “is more spectrum than is currently used for terrestrial mobile broadband by all wireless service providers combined”.

As per FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, the United States was following “the lead of South Korea, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Australia. But we put ourselves back in the running for next-generation wireless leadership”. She also called on the FCC to clarify on the timing for future spectrum auctions.

Her comments come in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum in October 2018, directing the Commerce Department to develop a long-term comprehensive national spectrum strategy to prepare for the introduction of 5G.

AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp, Verizon Communications Inc and T-Mobile US Inc are working to acquire spectrum and are developing and testing 5G networks.

The first 5G-compatible commercial mobile phones are expected to hit the market in 2019.

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