FCC Plans 2.5GHz Spectrum Auction for July, Paves Way for 6G at MWC 2022

Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel says she wants to start identifying midband spectrum for the eventual rollout of 6G.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
2 min read
Phone with "6G" written on its screen.

We're still many years from 6G wireless tech becoming a thing in the real world.

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

FCC  Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday that the US will hold a 5G auction for 2.5GHz midband spectrum this July.

The benefit of this midband sliver of airwaves is that it combines great coverage over long distances and the ability to carry lots of data. T-Mobile , which already uses a bunch of 2.5GHz spectrum, is reportedly hankering for a big chunk of the airwaves that will be auctioned off this summer to expand and shore up its 5G service.

Since Rosenworcel was confirmed as FCC chairwoman in December, she's been outspoken about the lack of cohesive whole-of-government spectrum policy and the impact that has had on the US' 5G rollout, especially in the wake of the clash between the aviation industry and wireless carriers last month.

During her MWC keynote, Rosenworcel spoke about the importance of paving the way for 6G, and of taking a different approach to the way the US has deployed 5G. "Let's not forget the lessons we've learned with millimeter wave spectrum and 5G," she said. "These waves are fragile. And while there's a lot of this spectrum to deploy, it doesn't travel very far, and right now deploying it is awfully costly."

For 6G, which is still years away from real-world deployment, she wants to start identifying midband spectrum right now that can support faster speeds and wider coverage, she added. 

"It's not too early to harmonize these efforts around the world, because that's how we will ensure that this next generation can reach everyone everywhere," she said.

Rosenworcel has tasked the FCC Technological Advisory Council she set up last July with staying on top of new developments to ensure the US can turn the latest scientific research into the communications technologies of the future. "We've got to learn from what came before and recognize that emerging technology ... benefits from a little advance planning," she said.