FCC Chairman Ajit Pai decided today that a public auction, led by the agency, is the best way to handle clearing out a portion of the C-band spectrum for wireless use. Pai’s decision comes as Sens. Roger Wicker, (R-MS), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and John Thune, (R-SD), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, introduced the 5G Spectrum Act. They say the legislation would ensure mid-band spectrum is quickly available by requiring a transparent and competitive public auctioning process. The bill specifically would require at least 50 percent of the value of auction revenues be reserved for the U.S. Treasury.
The decision is at least a partial blow to the satellite operators who occupy the band; they had proposed a private auction, saying that would free up spectrum faster than a Commission-led auction. Pai had said many times he would make decisions regarding the band by “late fall.” In order to get the issue on the calendar for the FCC’s monthly meeting in December, observers predicted something on the C-band issue would have to be announced by the end of this week.
More details to come in tomorrow’s edition of Inside Towers.
November 18, 2019