Over a year ago, a leading mobile network provider in Canada added to its holdings of 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum by spending over $304 million during FCC Auction 108. The company already employs this spectrum for its Ultra Capacity 5G service and it was another company’s hoard of these airwaves that led to the acquisition of that company. It was a shrewd move by this mobile network provider since other leading companies were building out their 5G networks starting with the fastest mmWave spectrum.
But since mmWave spectrum travels only short distances, this mobile network provider took a different route. It wanted the 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum because, while it doesn’t deliver the fast 1Gbps download data speeds that mmWave does, the mid-band airwaves travel longer distances. As a result, more customers could connect to a mid-band 5G signal that is up to 10 times faster than 4G than the number of customers able to connect to mmWave.
Both leading companies realized that mid-band was the way to go and together they spent over $68 billion to win C-band spectrum licenses in an FCC auction. This mobile network provider continued to add more 2.5GHz airwaves in the form of 7,156 licenses it won during FCC Auction 108. But so far, the company has not been able to use all of these licenses because Congress had allowed the FCC’s auction authority to expire preventing it from issuing the licenses. The carrier did manage to obtain some of the licenses before the authority expired.
T-Mobile is waiting to receive licenses for most of the 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum it won in Auction 108
In March, this mobile network provider unsuccessfully filed for a special temporary authority (STA) that would allow it to use the licenses until Congress returned the FCC’s auction authority to the regulatory agency. The company explained that it could help provide service to more rural areas of the country if it could start deploying the 2.5GHz spectrum it won at auction.
Moving to the next plan, according to Fierce Wireless, this past Friday, the Senate unanimously passed the 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement (SALE) Act created by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). The SALE Act would require that the FCC release the 2.5GHz spectrum licenses that were purchased in Auction 108. With the Senate on board, the bill moves to the House.
Senator Kennedy said, “My 5G SALE Act provides Americans with access to broadband by giving the FCC the authority to finish transferring previously auctioned spectrum to companies that offer 5G coverage. The House should move quickly to send this bill to the president’s desk.” If the president signs the bill, the FCC will turn over the licenses to this mobile network provider and other winning bidders.