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FCC Issues C-Band Auction’s Draft Procedures

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WASHINGTON—After announcing that a vote on the C-band auction procedures would be on the docket during its August open meeting, the FCC has officially shared its draft for what is known as Auction 107.

The C-band auction, which will sell mid-band spectrum previously used by satellite operators—who will be moving to the upper portion of the spectrum—with the goal of furthering the development of 5G wireless, the Internet of Things and other advanced spectrum-based services, is currently scheduled to take place on Dec. 8. This public notice provides details as to the procedures, terms, conditions, dates and deadlines for participation in the auction.

Officially, the FCC will be auctioning 5,684 flexible-use overlay licenses for spectrum in the 3.7-3.98 GHz band in the contiguous U.S. The auction will be conducted in clock phases, with bidding on generic blocks in each partial economic area, as well as an assignment phase for specific frequencies. There is a 20 MHz block that is not for sale that is set to serve as a guard band between these new services and the transitioned satellite operators.

A number of key dates were shared in the proceedings. First, an auction application tutorial is expected to be available over the internet not later than Aug. 21. The short-form application filing window will open on Sept. 9 at noon ET and close on Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. ET. Upfront payments would then be due by Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. ET. A bidding tutorial via the internet is expected to be available no later than Nov. 13, and a mock auction would then take place on Dec. 3. The official start of the auction would be on Dec. 8.

The short-form applications required for participating in the auction will determine whether applicants have the legal, technical and financial qualifications to participate in the auction. In the applications, parties must select the license areas on which they may want to bid on from the available PEAs, and provide info on any partnership or agreements as relating to the auction process. The FCC will allow for some joint bidding by non-dominant carriers and designated entities, but two or more dominant carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile) will not be permitted to offer joint bids.

In addition, the FCC plans to cap bidding credit discounts to an eligible small business at $25 million and $10 million on an eligible rural service provider. Also, no designated entity bidder will get more than $10 million in bidding credits for licenses won in markets of 500,000 people or less.

Anyone currently in default or delinquent on payments to the FCC will not be allowed to bid, but previous defaulters can participate as long as they are qualified and makes an upfront payment that is 50% more that what would be otherwise necessary.

For all information regarding the proposed C-band auction procedures, visit the FCC website. The FCC will vote on these proceedings at its Aug. 6 open meeting.