US 3.5 GHz spectrum auction delayed by a month

The US Federal Communications Commission is delaying an imminent spectrum auction by a month coz of coronavirus.

Auction 105 is for the part of 3550-3650 MHz band currently being used for CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) that the FCC has decided to license. It’s not the biggest 5G auction ever, but operators are keen to get hold of as much mid-band spectrum as possible in order to be able to deliver on their lofty 5G bandwidth promises. It was due to take place in 25 June, but has now been delayed until 23 July.

“Many Americans have had to make tough decisions on how they do business in this rapidly changing environment, and the FCC is no different,” said Chairman Ajit Pai. “After consulting agency staff within the relevant bureaus and offices, we determined that it was in everyone’s best interest to make these changes. But we remain committed to holding the 3.5 GHz auction this summer and look forward to beginning this important mid-band auction in July.”

Given the scale and severity of the pandemic, merely delaying by a month seems somewhat optimistic. The decision may well have been influenced by President Trump’s current rhetoric on the length of time the country will need to be locked down (see below). They presumably feared a longer delay would have indicated a less bullish stance, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see that date pushed back again before the summer.

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