FCC Begins Auction of 5G Priority Access Licenses

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Thursday that it will begin auctioning licenses for a mid-band spectrum suitable for 5G service. Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the 3550-3650 MHz band offered by the auction will “encourage the rapid deployment of next-generation wireless networks in the band.” This is part of the FCC’s strategy to Facilitate America’s Superiority in 5G Technology (the 5G FAST Plan).

Known as Auction 105, the event will “will offer seven Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in each county-based license area.” Procedures for Auction 105 were published by the FCC in early March. Per the FCC’s guidelines, the 3.5 GHz spectrum will include a “three-tiered hierarchical framework” for federal and non-federal users. The framework is ordered such that “incumbent users have the highest priority, followed by Priority Access Licensees, and then General Authorized Access users.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai believes the auction marks a significant point in developing 5G for the country. “5G is critical to America’s global economic and technological leadership, and the start of the 3.5 GHz auction today is a key milestone in our work advancing this national priority,” he said. FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly also noted that the auction will “ allocate 70 megahertz per county for innovative wireless services, making 3.5 GHz the first new 5G mid-band spectrum in the U.S.”

The FCC’s 5G FAST Plan includes three components to deploy the service across the United States: “(1) pushing more spectrum into the marketplace; (2) updating infrastructure policy; and (3) modernizing outdated regulations.” The license auction is an effort by the FCC to make additional 5G spectrums more widely available. Bidding is scheduled to begin July 25.

The FCC is also set to auction the 600 MHz band for use with 5G, per a press release earlier this month.