FCC’s Brendan Carr Offers Roadmap for Future Spectrum Auctions at Mid-Band Radio Frequencies

March 16, 2021— Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr said he is looking ahead toward spectrum bands that could potentially be auctioned off in the future. Speaking at a Monday event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, Carr offered a roadmap for several bands that he would like t

FCC’s Brendan Carr Offers Roadmap for Future Spectrum Auctions at Mid-Band Radio Frequencies
Screenshot of the event with Commissioner Brendan Carr

March 16, 2021— Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr said he is looking ahead toward spectrum bands that could potentially be auctioned off in the future.

Speaking at a Monday event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, Carr offered a roadmap for several bands that he would like to see auctioned off in the near future. He said that over the next couple of years, one of the FCC’s top priorities should be getting spectrum into the marketplace as quickly as possible.

The 100 megahertz between 3.45 GigaHertz (GHz) and 3.55 GHz was the first area Carr pointed to. He said that utilizing this region would be critical to continue to roll out 5G infrastructure. He added that the FCC would be voting later in the week as to whether to begin auctioning off this spectrum—which he seemed hopeful about. “I am almost ready to give us a check mark on this one.”

Next, Carr looked to 100 megahertz of spectrum at 2.5 GHz. He referred to this auction as Auction 108 and stated that this stretch of mid-band spectrum could not get to the market fast enough. “We’ve already put the legwork in to get this across the finish line later this year.”

In addition to the 2.5 GHz, Carr stated that the 6 GHz band should also be expected to go to auction this year for low-powered devices operating at 14 decibel milliwatts. He stated that getting the 6 GHz band auctioned off would play a crucial role in powering augmented reality applications that he believed would drive consumer demand for 5G and associated devices.

Carr then moved to the 5470-5725 MegaHertz (MHz) band. He acknowledged that this might seem farfetched, but he argued that this current band of unlicensed spectrum is underutilized, as most hardware manufacturers are not currently outfitting their products to take advantage of this band.

Carr said the regulations that govern this band should be reexamined due to “cumbersome technical restraints on the band that are designed to protect federal incumbents.” He said that new technology could make protecting federal incumbents while addressing spectrum expansion a reality.

Looking into 2022, Carr stated that he wanted to see auctions held for 1300-1350 MHz and the 42 GHz band. Beyond 2022, he said he wanted the lower 3 GHz band below 3.45 GHz to be auctioned. He also pointed to the 4.8 GHz band as an area worth auctioning, along with the 7.25-8.4 GHz band.

Carr also said he wanted the FCC to seek comment on increasing the power levels for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service. He advised that this would align U.S. standards with international standards and would help to extend the reach of 5G services.