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Delayed 5G mid-band auction is now underway in the US

From left: Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Michael O'Rielly, Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioners Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks.
From left: Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Michael O'Rielly, Chairman Ajit Pai, Commissioners Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks. (Image credit: FCC)

To date, mobile network operators in the US have been held back by the lack of mid-band 5G spectrum, instead launching services on a variety of frequencies, spanning from 600 MHz to 28 GHz. But the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that its mid-band spectrum auction, originally planned for June, is now underway.

The 3.5 GHz band has been earmarked as prime spectrum for 5G services, because it offers a sweet spot between capacity and speed, with the potential to provide a large amount of contiguous spectrum that will support channels with wide bandwidth.

"5G is critical to America’s global economic and technological leadership, and the start of the 3.5 GHz auction today is a key milestone in our work advancing this national priority."

Ajit Pai, FCC.

“5G is critical to America’s global economic and technological leadership, and the start of the 3.5 GHz auction today is a key milestone in our work advancing this national priority,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.  “I thank the FCC auctions staff and staff in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau for their work on this challenging project.”

5G FAST strategy

Commenting on spectrum availability in 2019, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said that making more spectrum available for the commercial marketplace was “a central plank of the Commission’s 5G FAST strategy”. And this auction – known as Auction 105 – will offer 22,631 Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the 3550-3650 MHz band, with seven PALs being offered in each county-based license area. 

"The Trump Administration, is squarely focused on preserving US leadership in wireless, both domestically and internationally. Let the bidding begin!”

Mike O’Rielly, FCC.

“Today, we celebrate the door opening to a wide array of potential bidders in the FCC’s CBRS spectrum auction [Auction 105]. After fixing past policy errors, we’re now set to allow auction magic to efficiently allocate 70 megahertz per county for innovative wireless services, making 3.5 GHz the first new 5G mid-band spectrum in the U.S.,” said FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly. 

“I thank Chairman Pai for letting me lead this effort and providing important input along the way. The Pai Commission, with critical support and initiatives by the Trump Administration, is squarely focused on preserving US leadership in wireless, both domestically and internationally. Let the bidding begin!”


Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.