The FCC has proposed to make 100 megahertz of mid-band spectrum in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band available for 5G deployment across the contiguous United States. The Commission also adopted rules for, and proposed additional changes to, the broader 3.3-3.55 GHz band.
Vice President, Government and Public Affairs Matt Mandel, responded to the action, “WIA applauds the FCC’s unanimous decision today to free up 100 MHz of mid-band spectrum. The consistent leadership in promoting 5G deployment provides incentives to invest in wireless infrastructure to meet consumer needs for more and more data. Access to spectrum is critical for speeding America toward winning the race to 5G and all the jobs and economic growth that come to the winner.”
This action is a step toward satisfying Congress’s directive in the MOBILE NOW Act to make new spectrum available for flexible use and to work with National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to evaluate the feasibility of allowing commercial use in the 3.1-3.55 GHz band. It is also a step forward in the Commission’s efforts to free up more spectrum for the commercial marketplace under its 5G FAST Plan.
The adopted rules remove the secondary, non-federal allocations from the 3.3-3.55 GHz band. The Report and Order relocates non-federal radiolocation licensees to the 2.9-3.0 GHz band, allowing them to continue operating there on a secondary basis to federal operations. It also allows amateur licensees to individually determine appropriate alternative spectrum from existing available spectrum allocations.
The commission has also proposed allocating the 3.45-3.55 GHz spectrum band for flexible-use service. It seeks comment on an appropriate regime to coordinate non-federal and federal use and proposes a band plan, as well as technical, licensing and competitive bidding rules for the band. Lastly, it seeks comment on details regarding the processes for relocating non-federal radiolocation operators to the 2.9-3.0 GHz band and sunsetting amateur use in the 3.3-3.5 GHz band.
This week’s actions follow last month’s announcement by the White House and Department of Defense that 100 megahertz of contiguous mid-band spectrum would be made available in the 3,450-3,550 MHz band for 5G commercial use, while minimizing impact to Department of Defense operations.
With this 3.45 GHz band item, the upcoming December C-band auction of 280 megahertz of spectrum, and the recently completed auction for Priority Access Licenses in the 3.5 GHz band, the Commission is on track to make a wide swath of 530 megahertz of continuous mid-band spectrum available for 5G. Combined with the commission’s work to make low- and high-band spectrum available for flexible use as well as its efforts to expedite the deployment of wireless infrastructure and fiber, the FCC is establishing a foundation for wireless innovation and investment needed for 5G.