The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to free up additional mid-band spectrum, once reserved for the military, for 5G.
Mid-band spectrum is the holy grail for 5G, offering the best combination of speed and building penetration. The FCC’s recent $81 billion auction was for spectrum in the 3.7 Ghz to 4.2 Ghz range.
The FCC has now voted to free up the 3.45 Ghz to 3.55 Ghz spectrum, spectrum the military has used for radar applications.
“Back to the here and now. Most of the country has yet to experience the benefits of a true 5G network,” said Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement. “The out-there innovations it can deliver are still a ways off because so many of them are not about connectivity delivered via phones. Plus, for so many consumers, the present is confusing, with carriers providing different versions of 5G, which can sometimes feel a lot like the 4G they already have. In part, this is due to the fact that carriers don’t always have the airwaves they need to provide consistent and widespread coverage at this time.
“Today we take action to change that. We take action that will move us closer to 5G service that is fast, secure, resilient, and—most importantly—available everywhere in the country. We accomplish that by adopting rules and auction procedures that will make available 100 megahertz of prime mid-band spectrum in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band available for 5G this year. This offers real opportunity because during the past few years the United States was slow, relative to other countries, to recognize the importance of mid-band spectrum for 5G. This meant we were late to bring these airwaves to market. So mid-band spectrum has been the critical component that is missing and our action here helps fix that.”
Freeing up the additional spectrum will be a major boon for carriers as they continue to roll out 5G networks.