FCC filing details C-band auction principles for national 5G run-up

Oct. 30, 2019
National, regional, and rural wireless operators have joined with C-Band Alliance on principles for a C-band auction.
C-Band Alliance
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The C-Band Alliance (CBA) announced on Oct. 29 that it has joined a number of national, regional, and rural wireless operators in an FCC filing detailing a set of principles to guide a process for auctioning off terrestrial rights to C-band spectrum.

Consistent with the goal of clearing spectrum and completing the auction efficiently and expeditiously, the CBA has proposed to clear a first tranche of 120 MHz of spectrum, inclusive of the 20-MHz guard band, in 46 top metropolitan zones within 18 months of an FCC order. The second tranche of the remaining spectrum would be made available within 36 months of the C-band auction, providing cleared spectrum throughout the entire continental U.S.

C-Band Alliance CEO Bill Tolpegin commented, “The alignment of stakeholders in the creation of an open and competitive 5G environment in the U.S. is a significant step forward and a win for all concerned. An expeditious sales process that is transparent, well-understood by potential buyers, and consistent with FCC processes paves the way for our clearing of the spectrum and the deployment of 5G services in C-band within 18 months of an FCC order. We are confident that the CBA proposal generates the greatest value for the U.S. in terms of both public interest and economic benefit. It is the right path for enabling 5G leadership in the United States.”

The auction design outlined in the principles agreed to by the CBA and the wireless operators addresses the shared goals of fairness and transparency and assures that the auction is open to all qualified bidders, consistent with FCC practice. The auction principles suggest use of a multi-round ascending clock auction format that is substantively similar to other recent FCC auctions.

The principles call for a single auction that would include all proposed cleared spectrum, divided into 20 MHz blocks based on PEAs, regardless of clearing timing or tranche. Other principles detailed in the filing include the setting of an aggregate reserve price and the agreement for participants to be bound by the FCC’s communications rules, reporting obligations, and enforcement.

As the CBA has previously committed, the joint principles call for a portion of the auction proceeds, beyond what is needed to cover the costs of the auction and the transition of the spectrum, to be contributed to the U.S. Treasury.

As stated by the CBA, "The repurposing of up to 300 MHz of C-band spectrum is contingent upon a number of factors which at this stage cannot be guaranteed and their outcome is uncertain, including the following: (i) a final FCC Order that accepts the CBA’s market-based proposal; and (ii) a satisfactory market-based process with potential terrestrial 5G users of the repurposed spectrum."

For more information, visit www.C-BandAlliance.com.

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