Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, outlined plans for a public auction of the 3.7GHz to 4.2GHz spectrum (C-Band), despite concerns that government-run procedures could delay the entry of key mid-frequency spectrums into the market. The 280MHz spectrum from 3.7GHz to 3.98GHz will be provided, while the additional 200 from 4GHz to 4.2GHz will be retained for existing satellite services.
The FCC has recently faced political pressure to hold public auctions, despite repeated proposals by a group of satellite service providers known as the C-Band Alliance (CBA) to hold a closed auction as early as the first quarter of 2020.
IN A CONFERENCE CALL WITH THE MEDIA, THE TOP FCC OFFICIALS SAID CBA’S ULTIMATE FAILURE TO PROVE ITS ABILITY TO CONDUCT FAIR AND TRANSPARENT AUCTIONS REFLECTED CONCERNS ABOUT PRICE TRANSPARENCY AND THE COMPETITIVENESS OF SMALL BUSINESSES IN PRIVATE AUCTIONS.
Officials said the FCC is expected to vote on the proposed plan early next year, with the goal of starting sales by the end of 2020.
However, Telecom analysts at LightShed Partners were skeptical of the timetable, noting in a research note that the decision to hold a public offering “could complicate and cause significant delays in the availability of the worldwide recognized major 5G band spectrum.”
Specifically, they point out that the FCC spends “a lot of time” getting support and setting up auction procedures for the 600MHz it will sell in 2017, which requires the FCC to rehouse and compensate existing licensees, as it might do in C-Band.