FCC Opens Spectrum Auction
WASHINGTON — Friday morning the Federal Communications Commission kicked off a spectrum auction, allowing telecommunications companies to possibly buy more than 8,000 licenses in the 2.5 GHz band.
The licenses are mostly available in rural parts of the country, according to the commission.
“We all know there are gaps in 5G coverage, especially in rural America, and this auction is a unique opportunity to fill them in,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, chair of the commission, in a statement. “I am grateful to the teams that have worked so hard to both stand up this auction and ensure the success of our efforts to make these airwaves available to tribes to support wireless service in their communities.”
This auction follows the Rural Tribal Priority Window, which closed in September 2020, where the commission granted 335 licenses to service tribal communities.
The licenses being auctioned Friday are flexible-use “overlay” licenses.
It’s also a new type of auction, which is the first of its kind. The format will look similar to previous auctions but will only offer a single frequency-specific license in a category in a county, according to the commission.
“Overlay” licensees can operate in the geographic area of the license; however, there may be some areas they cannot operate because an entity is already using that spectrum in that area, according to the commission.
Essentially the auction is to help close the gaps in coverage by allowing licenses for the unused areas.
This type of auction is part of the commission’s effort to expand internet coverage across the country, and one tool for doing so is 5G.