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Biden signs 5G SALE Act, granting T-Mobile additional mid-band 2.5GHz spectrum control

With both the Senate and the House passing the act, it was up to President Joe Biden to sign it, which he now has done. As a result, the FCC has temporary authorization to transfer to T-Mobile the 2.5GHz licenses. However, there is some grumbling because the 5G SALE Act provides the FCC with only a temporary respite and does not fully return to the FCC its long-term auction authority.

T-Mobile and other companies and organizations involved in the wireless industry have been demanding that Congress return the FCC’s long-term auction authority. For example, Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) President and CEO Patrick Halley made a statement after Biden signed the 5G SALE Act that not only covered his thoughts about T-Mobile being able to get its 2.5GHz licenses but also went beyond that to the FCC’s long-term auction authority.

Halley said, “While I appreciate that the rightful winners of the 2.5 GHz licenses will no longer be held hostage, it’s imperative that Congress restore the FCC’s auction authority with a long-term reauthorization. Anything less will continue to hamper the advancement of America’s mobile communications and put us in the competitive backseat against China and other global competitors.”

T-Mobile’s 5G service is based on the mid-band 2.5GHz spectrum. The carrier employs its 600MHz low-band airwaves for its nationwide Extended Range 5G (XR) service because those signals can travel for long distances. However, low-band 5G signals usually run only slightly faster than 4G LTE at 30Mbps-75Mbps. T-Mobile uses its 2.5GHz spectrum together with zippy high-band mmWave spectrum for T-Mobile’s 5G Ultra Capacity (UC) service. The latter delivers download data speeds as fast as 300Mbps.

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