This week the FCC approved rules for 2019 “high-band” auctions, which will provide an additional 3.4 GHz of spectrum for 5G services using bands at 37, 39 and 47 GHz.
According to the FCC, the combined upper 37 and 39 GHz bands will add 2.4 GHz, the largest amount of contiguous spectrum available for wireless services at millimeter wave frequencies. The 47 GHz band adds 1 GHz.
The rules are contained in the Fourth Report and Order in what the FCC calls the Spectrum Frontiers proceeding (download here). The order modifies the band plans for the upper 37, 39 and 47 GHz bands from 200 MHz blocks to 100 MHz blocks, which will be licensed by partial economic area (PEA). The FCC plans to simultaneously auction contiguous blocks in the three bands, while preserving the spectrum rights for existing licensees. A pre-auction process will allow the incumbents to rationalize their holdings.
The incentive auction will comprise two phases:
- Clock phase when bidders bid on generic license blocks.
- Assignment phase, allowing the clock phase winners to bid on specific frequencies.
Incentive payments will be offered to incumbent licensees to encourage freeing spectrum for new licenses. For incumbents choosing to hold on to existing spectrum rights, the FCC will have the authority to modify the incumbent’s licenses to align with the band plan and service areas.
The proposed rules were approved unanimously on December 12 by Chairman Pai and Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, and Rosenworcel. The fifth seat on the commission is vacant, awaiting Senate confirmation of nominee Geoffrey Starks.