FCC Moves Toward Offering Another Set of 5G Airwaves at Auction

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is moving toward selling another set of 5G airwaves as wireless providers engage in a multibillion dollar race for frequencies.

Democratic FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel called for an auction beginning in October for airwaves in the 3.45-to-3.55 gigahertz range. Her proposal faces a March 17 vote at the agency that’s split on partisan lines.

The airwaves to be offered are useful for 5G wireless technology, which offers ultra-fast connections for such uses as remote surgery and autonomous vehicles.

Roswenworcel in an emailed statement called for “5G that is fast, secure, resilient, and -- most importantly -- available across the country.”

“This important auction is a crucial step toward making that a reality,” Rosenworcel said.

Current users of the airwaves include the military, which operates high-powered radar. The Defense Department said it could share the frequencies, and the FCC last year said it would propose that federal systems in the airwaves can’t interfere with civilian use. Some other users will be re-allocated to different airwaves, Rosenworcel said.

Another airwaves sale attracted $81.2 billion in bidding that concluded last week. Winners are to be announced in coming days. Companies registered to take part in that bidding included mobile giants AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc.

Rosenworcel’s proposal needs to win a majority vote from the agency, which is shorthanded with four members evenly split between parties. One seat is vacant after a Republican resigned as President Joe Biden took office last month.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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