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President Seeks 100 MHz Mid-band Contiguous for 5G

Randy Sukow

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Woman Uses Wireless Service on a Rural Farm

President Trump, according to a White House press release yesterday, has directed “that 100 MHz of contiguous, coast-to-coast mid-band spectrum will be made available for commercial 5G deployment.” To further that goal, the president and the Department of Defense announced that they will allow the FCC to auction 3.45-3.55 GHz spectrum, now controlled by the military, to commercial users.

The 3.45-3.55 GHz band is adjacent to the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS, 3.55-3.65 GHz), where the FCC currently is auctioning priority access to spectrum nationwide. Several rural broadband providers are participating in the auction, which at last count has attracted nearly $3.2 billion in gross bids. The newly available block also is near the C band (3.7–3.98 GHz), which the Commission will begin auctioning on Dec. 8.

“This is a key milestone in securing United States leadership in 5G,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement after the announcement. “The FCC looks forward to moving quickly to adopt service rules for the 3.45 GHz band and then hold an auction to bring this prime mid-band spectrum to market.”

“Opening up this critical block of mid-band spectrum for full-power commercial operations will enhance U.S. competitiveness in the 5G ecosystem,” said CTIA President & CEO Meredith Attwell Baker. “We applaud the White House and Pentagon for finding ways to promote our nation’s leadership of the emerging 5G economy while safeguarding vital defense operations.”

In July, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) submitted a report to Congress on the status of federally held mid-band spectrum. “Our report concluded that the 3450-3550 MHz sub-band is a good candidate for potential spectrum sharing, including at the commercial power levels sought by the wireless industry,” said NTIA Administrator Doug Kinkoph during a speech earlier this month.

At the same time, Kinkoph praised the CBRS auction and other FCC actions to open mid-band spectrum. “This is an exciting, critical achievement in putting more mid-band spectrum to use. It is a culmination of nearly a decade of hard, collaborative work with our partners at the FCC, the Department of Defense, and the private sector,” he said.

Update, Sept. 8: We removed a sentence in a previous version that miscaculated the amount of spectrum the FCC has set aside for 5G.

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