The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established final application and bidding procedures for ‘Auction 107’ of 280MHz of ‘C-band’ 3.7GHz spectrum for 5G and other advanced wireless services scheduled for 8 December 2020. The auction will offer 5,684 new flexible-use overlay licences based on Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) for spectrum in the 3.7GHz-3.98GHz band, ensuring assignment to auction winners of contiguous spectrum blocks allowing wide channel bandwidths that support 5G deployment.
In February the FCC adopted rules for the 3.7GHz-4.2GHz C-band which allocated the lower 280MHz (3.7GHz-3.98GHz) band for flexible terrestrial wireless services (with a 20MHz guard band, 3.98GHz-4.0GHz) and required existing satellite operators to repack their operations from the band’s entire 500MHz into the upper 200MHz (4.0GHz-4.2GHz). By June the FCC secured agreements from satellite operators Eutelsat, Intelsat, SES, Star One and Telesat to accelerate the relocation in return for special payments. These companies must clear 120MHz of spectrum in 46 PEAs by 5 December 2021. In a second phase, they must clear the lower 120MHz in the remaining PEAs, plus an additional 180MHz nationwide, by 5 December 2023.
Bidding procedures have now been finalised for:
• two ‘clock phase’ categories of generic blocks in the 46 PEAs where certain blocks are subject to the first early clearing deadline of December 2021
• an ‘assignment phase’ in which winning bidders for blocks subject to the first early clearing timeline will be assigned both interim and final contiguous frequency-specific licence assignments
• upfront payment and minimum opening bid amounts for bidding on the licences as well as bidding credit caps for rural service providers and small businesses, including a cap on the overall amount of bidding credits a small business bidder may apply to winning licences in smaller markets.