US regulator issues proposals for another 5G spectrum sale

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking comments on its proposed plans for the auction of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, its commissioners having voted to launch the sale on 25 June next year.

The FCC has outlined a structure in which spectrum will be available via so-called priority access licences (PALs), each of which will comprise 10 MHz of unpaired spectrum. Seven PALs will be available in each county-based licence area, giving a total of 22,631 to bid for across the US.

The regulator is seeking comment on a number of areas of the auction process, which has been dubbed Auction 105.

It proposes an ascending clock format, similar to that used in Auction 102 – which raised US$2 billion from the sale of 24 GHz frequencies earlier this year – and a format that has been approved for Auction 103, its latest millimetre wave sale that is due to take place later this year. The format would see participants bid for generic licence blocks in specific counties.

The regulator is also exploring the option of allowing participants to bid for airwaves across multiple counties in 172 metropolitan areas, and permitting them to lodge bids for more airwaves than they are eligible to actually hold.

In addition, it has also outlined rules on credit caps, upfront payments, bidding eligibility, minimum opening bids, and a number of other auction functions.