FCC's Ajit Pai wants to auction more 5G spectrum

The commission will decide whether to use yet another spectrum band for 5G.

Corinne Reichert Senior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert
2 min read

The FCC could be bringing another spectrum band to 5G mobile operators.

Angela Lang/CNET

The Federal Communications Commission is set to decide whether to auction off 2.5GHz spectrum for 5G mobile use. The meeting on July 10 is part of the Facilitating America's Superiority in 5G Technology (5G Fast) program, FCC Chair Ajit Pai said Tuesday.

5G, already launched in the US by Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, is the next-generation network being used by smartphones to provide faster speeds and more capacity. Spectrum, or radio airwaves, make the wireless system work -- and by auctioning off spectrum in several bands, capacity and speeds will keep increasing.

Pai called mid-band spectrum "central" to the 5G Fast strategy, as it will advance the nation's 5G leadership. He said the band has been mostly unused until now, due to "arcane rules."

"On July 10, the commission will vote on an order that will modernize an outdated regulatory regime for the 2.5GHz band," Pai wrote in a blog post Tuesday. "The new framework will ... also provide opportunities for Tribal Nations and others to obtain access to unused 2.5GHz spectrum."

During the July 10 meeting, the FCC will also vote on the terms, procedures and conditions for its upcoming Dec. 10 auction across the 37GHz, 39GHz and 47GHz bands.

Late last month, the FCC announced raising $2 billion in gross bids in its second 5G spectrum auction, selling off a batch of millimeter-wave (mmWave) high-bandwidth spectrum in the 24GHz band.

Of the 2,909 licenses on offer, 2,904 were awarded on May 28. The licenses mean carriers can launch mobile services across multiple frequencies, improving latency, speeds and capacity.

The first 5G spectrum auction ending in January saw the FCC raise $702,572,410 in gross bids, awarding 2,965 of the 3,072 licenses offered in the 28GHz mmWave band after opening up bidding in November.