5G mid-band wireless deployments await FCC's planned 2.5 GHz spectrum auction

April 7, 2022
The FCC has also launched a mapping tool that can be used to help assess whether, and to what extent, there is unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum available in any county in the U.S.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last month announced that July 29, 2022 will be the start of bidding in the auction of 2.5 GHz mid-band licenses for 5G wireless services.

In its Public Notice released on March 21, the FCC adopted application and bidding procedures for an auction of new flexible-use geographic overlay licenses in the 2.5 GHz band (2496-2690 MHz). The agency said this action follows substantial public comment on various process proposals under consideration and the Commission’s adoption of its 2.5 GHz Band Report and Order.

An FCC statement added that this ascending clock format auction (Auction 108) will offer approximately 8,000 new flexible-use, county-based overlay licenses.

The agency said these licenses are in areas with unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum—mostly rural parts of the country—following disposition of applications filed in the Rural Tribal Priority Window, which has to date resulted in the grant of 335 licenses to serve Tribal communities.

The FCC's statement added: "In establishing procedures for this first-of-its-kind overlay auction, this proceeding addressed numerous complex issues from smoothly wrapping up the first-of-its-kind Tribal priority window to questions involving the license inventory, given the unique history. widespread existing deployments in the band, and extensive secondary market arrangements."

The FCC said that overlay licenses must protect the operations of incumbent licensees within the auctioned areas, including any licensees that receive their licenses through applications filed in the Rural Tribal Priority Window, which closed in September 2020.

The Commission said it continues to process pending Tribal applications, which could result in removing a relatively small number of additional licenses from the inventory before the opening of the Auction 108 short-form application filing window.

“Today we are readying the launch of the next 5G mid-band spectrum auction, following close on the heels of the recent, successful 3.45 GHz auction,” commented FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who added, “The 2.5 GHz band auction can help deliver on the promise of 5G services and ensure that it reaches as many people as possible. The 2.5 GHz band spectrum provides an opportunity to fill in some of the critical 5G gaps in rural America. I look forward to the launch of this important auction.”

Meanwhile, in conjunction with the auction procedures Public Notice, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of Economics and Analytics concurrently announced the launch of a mapping tool that can be used to help assess whether and to what extent there is unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum available in any county nationwide.

The mapping tool, as well as instructions for its use, can be found under the Education tab on the Auction 108 website at www.fcc.gov/auction/108.

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