19 small operators ask FCC to schedule 2.5 GHz auctions
Coalition of 19 small US operators calls on Federal Communications Commission to plan spectrum auction for licenses in the 2.5 GHz band, saying it is a critical opportunity for rural and underserved areas .
The service providers, all members of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), sent an October 11 letter (PDF) to Acting President Jessica Rosenworel who urges the regulator to immediately set an auction date for the more than 8,000 mid-range licenses in its inventory.
C Spire, GCI Communications, Union Wireless, Carolina West, Viaero Wireless and Nex-Tech Wireless are among the signatories.
This follows recent calls from T-Mobile to the FCC to hurry up and schedule a 2.5 GHz auction. T-Mobile may want to maintain or strengthen its lead on the mid-band spectrum when it can against larger competitors like AT&T and Verizon (all of which participated in the ongoing auction of 3.45 GHz). But for smaller operators, the 2.5 GHz band – which is largely licensed in rural areas that are offered on a smaller county basis compared to Partial Economic Zones (PEAs) in the 3.45 GHz bands. and C – presents “a real opportunity for the little ones. entities, like our companies, to win these licenses at auction, ”the carriers wrote.
RELATED: T-Mobile Urges FCC to Upgrade to 2.5GHz Auction Date
It has been more than two years since the commission adopted rules for the 2.5 GHz band, and nine months since it proposed auction procedures, operators noted.
The group said that while support for 5G has been a priority, mid-band spectrum is even more critical now, especially in rural and underserved areas, as Americans use wireless to work. at home, distance learning and use of telehealth services.
“Our corporate networks are urged to handle even more traffic that can be supported by the 2.5 GHz spectrum,” the letter said.
The county-level auction has proven successful for smaller entities in other medium-band auctions like the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS). This 70 MHz auction for priority access licenses (PAL) in the 3.5 GHz band brought together 348 participants with 228 winners. Of these, 70 small wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) gained spectrum, obtaining approximately 3,600 licenses.
WISPA, a group that represents small fixed wireless service providers, had advocated for the current 110 auction to follow a similar guide to CBRS with county-sized licenses to allow for more diverse participation.
The current 3.45 GHz auction has 33 qualified bidders, while the successful C-band auction had 57 qualified entrants and 21 winners (although most licenses fell into the hands of two big spenders and generated over $ 81 billion).
The 2.5 GHz auction does not offer nationwide spectrum, and the stacked licenses are unique – with rule changes in 2019 for the EBS (Educational Broadband Services) part.
RELATED: FCC Begins Offering Single 2.5GHz Auctions, License Zones
CCA companies also want commission to adopt simultaneous multiple-round auctions (SMR), saying that a single-round bidding process does not uncover prices and is unfamiliar to smaller carriers. rural. With little public information on the value of 2.5 GHz for small operators, knowing the prices is important because companies won’t know what could win until they see what others are up to. to pay. Another factor cited by the group concerns the unique licenses offered in the 2.5 GHz band due to the different levels of incumbent users in the band, even within the same markets.
“While we can guess at the license values, these are all offers and these guesses could result in a significant underbid or overbid, which means we could lose some important licenses while gaining less important ones.” , wrote the coalition of carriers. , noting that an SMR format could avoid this problem.
T-Mobile, which is itself a member of the ACC, in a September 15 statement. deposit (PDF) also asked the FCC to use an SMR auction format.