Only 35 companies, the FCC announced yesterday, have qualified to participate in the upcoming Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service auction (Auction 103). That auction, which opens on Dec. 10, will distribute high-frequency spectrum licenses in the 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. Large national carriers are among those that qualified, however, some rural groups also appear on the list. They include six NRTC members:
- Atlantic Telephone Membership Corp. (Atlantic Seawinds Communications), Shallotte, NC
- Horry Telephone Cooperative, Conway, SC
- OTZ Telephone Cooperative, Kotzebue, AK
- Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Kingfisher, OK
- PVT Networks, Artesia, NM
- Vermont Telephone Co. (VTel Wireless), Springfield, VT
Many foresee carriers using high-frequency microwave spectrum for small-cell communications over 5G networks and say that such installations will be rare in rural areas. However, the microwave bands will be able to support very fast communications over short distances, which could be applicable in industrial and campus settings in both rural and urban areas.
Auction 103 follows two earlier auctions for high-band licenses in late 2018 and early 2019 -- Auctions 101 (28 GHz) and 102 (24 GHz). NRTC members spent more than $3.7 million in the two earlier auctions and among them acquired fifteen 24 GHz licenses and thirty-seven 28 GHz licenses.