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FCC Announces Bidders for 2.5 GHz Spectrum Auction

Future
(Image credit: Future)

WASHINGTON D.C.—In its ongoing quest to open up more spectrum for 5G, the FCC this week announced qualified bidders for its upcoming 2.5 GHz band. According to the commission, 82 applicants, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, qualified for the auction while 11 did not.

The auction will get underway Friday July 29 (10 A.M. - 4 P.M. ET) but bidders will get early access on July 22, with mock auctions being held July 26 & 27. Bidding will resume on Monday Aug. 1 (10 A.M. - 12 noon ET and 2 P.M. - 4 P.M.) and continue each business day until the FCC closes the auction. The pace of the auction will be determined by the FCC based on the progress of bidding. 

The 2.5 GHz portion of the spectrum band—the single largest band of contiguous spectrum below 3 Ghz— was once used by broadcasters for ENG Broadcast Auxiliary Services (BAS) but TV broadcasters were moved off of BAS (opens in new tab) more than a decade ago in a nearly $1 billion transition financed by Sprint. The FCC says the band—which is  currently occupied by educational broadband service (EBS, formerly known as IFTS-instructional television fixed service)—is under-utilized. 

“Much of this band, which is prime spectrum for 5G, has lain fallow for more than twenty years, particularly in rural areas,” the commission said. 

To encourage more participants in the auction, the FCC has eliminated outdated rules preventing this spectrum from being put to its highest and best use, including restrictions on who may be a licensee, restrictions on how licensees must use the spectrum, and restrictions on how licensees may lease spectrum to other entities.

Tom Butts
Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.