The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the release of more mid-band spectrum for mobile broadband services. An additional 100 MHz in the 3.45-3.55 GHz range will be made available for 5G services, while 50 MHz in the 4.9 GHz range will be available for state licensing of local wireless services.
The release of the 3.5 GHz spectrum remains subject to public consultation. If approved, the frequencies would be available for flexible-use service. The public review seeks comment on an appropriate regime to coordinate non-federal and federal use and proposes a band plan, as well as technical, licensing and competitive bidding rules for the band. Lastly, it seeks comment on details regarding the processes for relocating non-federal radiolocation operators to the 2.9-3.0 GHz band and sunsetting amateur use in the 3.3-3.5 GHz band.
Today’s FCC announcement follows last month’s by the White House and Department of Defense (DoD) that 100 megahertz of contiguous mid-band spectrum would be made available in the 3450-3550 MHz band for 5G commercial use while simultaneously minimizing impact to DoD operations.
With this 3.45 GHz band item, the upcoming December C-band auction of 280 megahertz of spectrum, and the recently completed auction for Priority Access Licenses in the 3.5 GHz band, the Commission is on track to make a wide swath of 530 megahertz of continuous mid-band spectrum available for 5G. Combined with the Commission’s work to make low- and high-band spectrum available for flexible use as well as its successful efforts to expedite the deployment of wireless infrastructure and fibe Federal Communications Commission r, the FCC is establishing a strong foundation for wireless innovation and investment and helping the United States lead the world in 5G.
The additional spectrum for 5G is made possible by an agreement earlier this year with the Department of Defense to vacate the 3.45-3.55 GHz range. This adds to the 3.55-3.65 GHz range just auctioned and the 3.7-3.98 GHz band planned for the FCC December auction.
The FCC said the latest announcement means that a total of 530 MHz in the range 3.45-3.98 GHz is set for release for 5G services.
Under the new rules for the 4940-4990 MHz frequency range, states are allowed to lease this spectrum to third parties to boost wireless broadband, improve critical infrastructure monitoring, and facilitate public safety use cases. The frequencies are currently designated for public safety use, but are rarely used, and the FCC is hoping the new rules will increase applications of the spectrum.
The rules adopted establish a framework for states to allow new partnerships with electric utilities, AT&T FirstNet and commercial operators to increase usage of this spectrum, while protecting existing public safety operations. The wider possibilities are expected also to contribute to more equipment for the band being developed, a problem that has limited the spectrum’s use to date.
Cecilia Sulhoff at (202) 418-0587, email: Cecilia.Sulhoff@fcc.gov