US fast tracks it plans to free up C-band spectrum for 5G

Published: 2 March 2020 - 7:35 a.m.

The US’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a new set of rules to fast track the clearing and subsequent auction of crucial 5G C-band spectrum.

The much coveted C-band spectrum (from the 3.7GHz to 4.2GHz band) is currently used by satellite operators in the US, but the FCC’s proposed plan would see the country’s satellite operators relinquish their spectrum licences in exchange for around $9.7 billion in compensation payments.

“To be eligible for Phase I payments, operators must clear 120 megahertz of spectrum (3.7-3.82 GHz) in 46 Partial Economic Areas by December 5, 2021. To be eligible for Phase II payments, they must clear the remaining 180 megahertz of spectrum (3.82-4.0 GHz) by December 5, 2023; new flexible-use licensees will be responsible for these payments as well as reasonable relocation costs,” the FCC said in a statement to the press.

Under the FCC’s plans, spectrum from 3.7GHz to 3.98GHz would be reallocated to the country’s telcos via a nationwide spectrum auction.

“The action taken by the Commission today is a critical step in implementing our comprehensive 5G FAST Plan, as it will rapidly put mid-band spectrum into the hands of innovators and consumers and pave the way for the United States to lead the world in 5G deployment. This action also will meet the Commission’s mandate under the MOBILE NOW Act to identify spectrum for mobile and fixed wireless broadband use,” the FCC statement continued.

C-band spectrum is highly desirable to telcos, as it blends the ability to deliver hyperfast download speeds in excess of 1Gbps with much improved propagation ranges, when compared to higher frequency spectrums.

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