US unveils plans for mid-band spectrum auction to enhance 5G network

The Donald Trump administration has unveiled plans to auction off 100 megahertz of mid-band spectrum to enhance 5G network coverage in the United States.
Verizon 5G cell siteEarlier, the United States dedicated 100 MHz of mid-band spectrum — 3.45-3.55 GHz band — to military purposes. Operators can now use the 5G spectrum, which will be available for commercial use starting in mid-2022, in order to enhance 5G network coverage in the United States.

Federal Communications Commission will be able to auction this spectrum to companies like Verizon Communications and AT&T from December 2021, and the wireless industry could be using it by summer of the following year, White House adviser and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios told reporters.

Verizon Communications is the #telecom operator and AT&T is the #3 telecom operator in the United States. Both are looking at enhancing 5G network coverage to take on the rapidly growing T-Mobile, a Deutsche Telecom company.

“The move allows us to maximize 5G availability of spectrum without compromising national security,” Michael Kratsios said.

The military uses the spectrum for critical radar operations including air missile defense, Department of Defense Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy said.

Mid-band spectrum is seen as vital for 5G, because it offers both geographic coverage and the capacity to transmit large amounts of data, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has said.

“Together with the spectrum being made available for 5G in the C-band as well as the 3.5 GHz band, we are now on track to have a 530 MHz swath of mid-band spectrum available for 5G from 3.45 to 3.98 GHz,” Ajit Pai said.

Ajit Pai said the FCC looks forward to moving quickly to adopt service rules for the 3.45 GHz band and then hold an auction to bring this prime mid-band spectrum to market.

United States is behind China and South Korea in terms of 5G adoption. Companies such as Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T are yet to disclose the number of 5G subscribers they have though they launched 5G mobile services in 2019.

The FCC has been working to clear spectrum to make 5G networks a reality and ensure there is enough spectrum to handle the growing amount of mobile internet and wireless traffic. This spectrum reassignment is part of that effort.

In October 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum directing the Commerce Department to develop a long-term comprehensive national spectrum strategy to prepare for 5G wireless networks.

Donald Trump created the White House Spectrum Strategy Task Force and asked federal agencies to report on government spectrum needs and review how spectrum could be shared with private sector users.

US wireless industry group CTIA welcomed the announcement. “Opening up this critical block of mid-band spectrum for full power commercial operations will enhance U.S. competitiveness in the 5G ecosystem,” CTIA President and CEO, Meredith Attwell Baker, said in a statement.