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Some Rural Carriers to Test Spectrum Frontiers Auctions

Randy Sukow

The FCC today began taking bids in the Spectrum Frontier for high-band spectrum to feed future 5G wireless broadband services. While high-band frequencies do not deliver broadband signals over long distances, they offer very wide channels to deliver speeds sometimes exceeding 1 gigabit per second over short distances.

Most expect carriers covering urban areas, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, to show the most interest in Spectrum Frontier licenses. However, a few rural telco members are on the list of qualified bidders for high-band licenses.

“Between the auctions this year and next, the FCC will push almost 5 GHz  of spectrum into the commercial marketplace over the course of the next 15 months,” Chairman Ajit Pai said in a written statement today. “To put that in perspective, that is more spectrum than is currently used for terrestrial mobile broadband by all wireless service providers combined.”

The Commission will conduct two Spectrum Frontier auctions. Bidding today started on 3,072 licenses Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service  (UMFUS) in the 28 GHz band (Auction 101). A second portion of UMUS spectrum in the 24 GHz band (Auction 102) “will be scheduled and announced after the conclusion of bidding in Auction 101,” the FCC says. After Auction 102, the Commission has 2019 plans to auction additional high-band spectrum at 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz.

Auction 101 held its opening two rounds this afternoon. At the end of the first day, total bids were $41,693,960 for 2,065 licenses. About a thousand licenses have not yet received bids.

Forty companies qualified to bid in Auction 101. Among them are NRTC members:

  • Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative, Anchorage, AK
  • Cordova Telephone Cooperative, Cordova, AK
  • Horry Telephone Cooperative, Conway, SC
  • Mark Twain Communications Co., Hurdland, MO
  • Nemont Communications, Scobey, MT
  • Panhandle Telephone Cooperative, Guymon, OK
  • Rock Port Telephone Co., Rock Port, MO

The FCC also recently announced the list of companies that have completed applications to participate in Auction 102. A final list of qualified bidders is expected before the end of Auction 101. A total of 2,909 24 GHz licenses in seven blocks will be available in that auction. Arctic Slope, Cordova, Horry, Mark Twain, and Rock Port appear on the Auction 102 list along with fellow NRTC member, Canby Telephone Association in Canby, OR.

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