FCC Commences C-Band Auction | Citizens Against Government Waste

FCC Commences C-Band Auction

The WasteWatcher

On December 8, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking a significant step to increase the availability of mid-band spectrum for 5G deployment when it commences the auction of c-band spectrum (3.7-4.2 GHz).  Following the February 28, 2020 adoption of a report and order which reallocated a portion of the c-band spectrum for 5G deployment, while protecting the interests of satellite companies and others currently using the c-band and surrounding spectrum, the FCC has moved quickly to advance the buildout of critical mobile networks that will provide improved communications across the country.

While the entire c-band spectrum comprises 500 MHz of spectrum, only the lower 280 MHz of spectrum (3.7-4.0 GHz) will be allocated for 5G networks.  This separation retains the upper 200 MHz of the band for satellite use and creates a buffer of 20 MHz to protect the satellite communications in the c-band from interference from the 5G networks.  The auction proceeds will revert to the U.S. Treasury.  The report and order adopted by the FCC was the best option available to move this spectrum from an underutilized resource to one that will enable 5G deployment across the country at a much faster pace than originally expected. 

While the lower 280 MHz of the band will be used for 5G deployment, the upper portion of the band will continue to be used by satellites, thereby dispelling concerns over interference with users of the adjoining globally-allocated 4.2-4.4 GHz aeronautical band, who have raised safety concerns over the c-band auction.  The FCC gave serious and due consideration to all issues related to the spectrum, including potential interference with users of adjoining spectrum, as the agency does in all such proceedings.  The FCC’s engineers concluded, “As operations in the 3.7-3-98 GHz band will be a part 27 service, we find these rules implement important safeguards for all wireless services to ensure that devices meet RF safety limits and that the potential for causing harmful interference to other operations is minimized.  Further, few commenters address these issues other than supporting uniformity of 3.7-3.98 GHz band regulations with other part 27 services that will operate in nearby bands.”

During the past four years, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has led the way to make additional spectrum available for 5G deployment and unlicensed use, while ensuring incumbent users in each of these bands are properly protected from signal interference.  The auction scheduled to begin today is a significant step forward in deploying additional next generation networks and improving communications across the country, and Citizens Against Government Waste congratulates the agency on its hard work in bringing this much-needed spectrum to auction.