The US Federal Communications Commission closed the country’s first auction of mid-band frequencies for 5G, with winning bidders committing almost $4.6 billion on licences in the 3.5GHz range, though almost 9 per cent of lots remained unsold.
Details of winning bidders are yet to be revealed, but the auction was said to have attracted cable companies, ISPs, utility providers and enterprises alongside mobile operators.
The auction opened in late July and concluded after 76 rounds of bidding, with 20,625 of 22,631 licences available sold. At its launch, Commissioner Mike O’Reilly hailed the “door opening to a wide array of potential bidders in the FCC’s CBRS spectrum auction”, noting the 3.5GHz sale covered the “first new 5G mid-band spectrum in the US”.
Allocations were split into 10MHz blocks and covered smaller geographical areas than previous major auctions in the country, a move credited with widening the pool of potential buyers.
Another batch of 5G-suitable spectrum, this time in the 3.7GHz to 4.2GHz band, is set to be allocated by the FCC in another auction scheduled to start on 8 December.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai hailed the 3.5GHz sale as a “resounding success”, adding there had been strong demand for the licences.
The FCC added the allocations would further deployment of 5G in the country, and advance IoT and “other advanced spectrum-based services”.