Time to Gear Up For The 3.5 GHz Auction

March 3, 2020

On March 2, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) released the final Public Notice establishing application and bidding procedures for the auction of Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz band. The auction, designated as Auction 105, is scheduled to begin on June 25, 2020, and important auction deadlines are rapidly approaching. Those wishing to participate in Auction 105 must, among other things, submit a short-form application (FCC Form 175) electronically prior to 6:00 p.m. ET on April 9, 2020.

Auction 105 will make 70 MHz of CBRS spectrum available nationwide. Over 22,000 county-sized PALs will be auctioned, marking the largest number of spectrum licenses ever available for bidding in a single FCC auction. The auction will offer up to seven PALS in each county-based license area. Each PAL will consist of a 10 MHz unpaired channel in the 3.55-3.65 GHz band. A summary of the licenses offered in Auction 105 is available on the Auction 105 website.

The highly anticipated auction will be the Commission’s first auction of critical mid-band spectrum designed to support the deployment of 5G, the Internet of Things, and other advanced spectrum-based services. 

The Public Notice establishes several important upcoming dates and deadlines related to Auction 105 participation, including the following:

Auction Application Tutorial Available (via Internet)

No later than March 9, 2020

Short-Form Application (FCC Form 175) Filing Window Opens

March 26, 2020, 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Short-Form Application (FCC Form 175) Filing Window Deadline

April 9, 2020, 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Upfront Payments Due (via wire transfer)

May 21, 2020, 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Bidding Tutorial Available (via Internet)

No later than June 11, 2020

Mock Auction

June 22, 2020

Bidding Begins in Auction 105

June 25, 2020

The FCC will use an ascending clock auction design for Auction 105, similar to what was used in the recent millimeter wave auctions (e.g., Auctions 102 and 103), in which bidders indicate their demands for generic license blocks in specific counties. The bidding system will limit bidders to no more than four blocks in any given county at any point in the auction. Unlike Auctions 102 and 103 where specific license assignments were made through an assignment bidding round, an automated Spectrum Access System (SAS) will make the specific channel assignments for a particular licensee on a dynamic basis in order to protect incumbent users in the band from harmful interference.

Please contact Wiley’s team of experts if you would like to better understand the Auction 105 procedures, the CBRS service and licensing rules, or if you would like more information on participating in the auction.

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