US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai (pictured, centre) announced members will vote later this month on whether to approve a mid-2020 start date for a long-awaited auction of licensed spectrum in the 3.5GHz band.
The vote would seek comment on draft procedures for the auction, with the target of commencing bidding on 25 June 2020. Licence zones and terms for the band were established in October 2018.
In a blog post, Pai said the 70MHz of licensed airwaves the FCC aims to offer in the auction is “prime spectrum for 5G services”.
Indeed, the move would help alleviate a shortage of mid-band spectrum in the country, which is favoured by operators for 5G since it offers a balance of coverage and capacity.
Operators including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile US, Charter Communications, US Cellular and Altice USA, have expressed interest in 3.5GHz, and the CBRS Alliance is in the process of developing technical specifications for 5G operation in the shared band.
Initial commercial deployments in the unlicensed portion of the band were originally expected in 2018, but were repeatedly pushed back as operators awaited final approval from federal regulators. Launches are now expected before the end of 2019, but operators stressed the importance of licensed access for 5G rollouts.
The FCC will vote on the auction proposal at a meeting on 26 September.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back