The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it will auction 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band in the in early October, with a proposed reserve price of $14.7 billion

The US FCC has announced plans for its next spectrum auction, scheduled to take place in early October later this year. The regulator is currently seeking comment from the industry on its proposed ‘Auction 110’, which would allocate 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band, with a reserve price of $14.7 billion.

The current plan for the auction includes dividing the 100 MHz available into 10 MHz blocks, each of which will be licensed by Partial Economic Areas (PEAs), with a total of 4,060 flexible licences available nationwide. The auction will comprise a bidding phase followed by an assignment phase. 

Part of the focus here for the FCC is to ensure that the licences available are shared more widely throughout the telecoms ecosystem, with acting FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel noting that the vast majority of the licences won in the recent $81 billion C-band auction went to AT&T and Verizon.

“Today’s decision commits to the idea that successful auctions have many bidders,” said Rosenworcel, noting that the October auction will see a 40 MHz cap on potential spectrum gains. She also pointed out that auctioning the available spectrum in smaller blocks would hopefully allow smaller players to compete effectively.

Whether the industry agrees with this strategy remains to be seen. Republican FCC commissioner Brendan Carr notably complained about the proposed cap in a speech on Wednesday.

“I think we should have refrained from doing so [imposing a cap] and instead maximized the chances for a successful auction,” he said.

Meanwhile, the FCC is also showing no sign of easing the strain on Chinese companies, recently announcing that it has begun efforts to revoke China Unicom Americas’, Pacific Networks’, and PN’s wholly-owned subsidiary ComNet’s authorization to provide telecommunications services in the US. The Commission said that China Unicom Americas had “failed to dispel serious concerns” over their connections to the Chinese government.

“The evidence compiled in our proceedings confirms that these companies are indirectly owned and controlled by the Chinese government,” said Rosenworcel. “As a result, there is strong reason to believe that they will have to comply with requests from the Chinese government and advance its goals and policies.”

Some of these Chinese telecoms companies also have data centres in the US, which could represent a serious threat to national security threat, but the FCC currently lacks the authority to address this issue.  


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