In a significant development, the Trump administration has unveiled plans to auction off 100 megahertz of mid-band spectrum that was previously reserved for military purposes. The commercial use of this spectrum is slated to start from mid-2022.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) aims to auction this spectrum to companies including Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc from December 2021. The wireless industry expects to use it from the summer of 2022, said White House adviser and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios.
The move “allows us to maximize 5G availability of spectrum without compromising national security,” said Kratsios.
Currently, the military uses the spectrum for critical radar operations including air missile defense, said Department of Defense Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy.
“Midband spectrum is seen as vital for 5G, because it offers both geographic coverage and the capacity to transmit large amounts of data,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.
The FCC has been working to aggregate sufficient amounts of spectrum to make 5G networks a reality as well as ensure that there is enough room to handle surging internet and wireless traffic. This spectrum reassignment development is part of that effort.
“This is a key milestone in securing United States leadership in 5G,” said Pai.
The development comes in the wake of a October 2018 presidential memorandum that was signed by U.S. President Donald Trump directing the Commerce Department to develop a long-term comprehensive national spectrum strategy to prepare for the launch of 5G wireless networks.
“Opening up this critical block of mid-band spectrum for full power commercial operations will enhance U.S. competitiveness in the 5G ecosystem,” said Meredith Attwell Baker, President and CEO of U.S. wireless industry group CTIA.