By Anne Morris

FCC chair announces 2.5GHz auction and makes 6G push

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel made use of her keynote speech on Tuesday to reveal that the next US auction of mid-band spectrum will take place in July 2022, while highlighting a need to start planning for 6G now and develop more innovative spectrum management policies.

“I’m excited to announce that the US will hold another mid-band spectrum auction. This July we’ll kick off our auction of the 2.5GHz band. This is the single largest swathe of continuous mid-band spectrum we have below 3GHz. The airwaves available from this auction are going to help extend 5G services beyond our most populous cities,” Rosenworcel said.

She also said the FCC is going to turn its sights to working with its federal partners “to find ways to commercialise spectrum and make available for auction airwaves in the 3.1GHz to 3.45GHz band”.

Rosenworcel noted that one of her first actions as chairwoman of FCC had been to pivot the US to mid-band spectrum for 5G. “This spectrum is key to delivering on the promise of 5G services and ensuring that it reaches as many people as possible,” she said.

Meanwhile, she is already looking ahead to 6G technology developments. “These are early days. But if we’ve learned anything from our experience of rolling out 5G, it’s that wireless service matters for economic and national security.”

Spectrum availability is an obvious concern, and Rosenworcel is looking ahead to identifying airwaves in the 7GHz to 15GHz band, while also investigating the use of ultra-high frequencies.

Furthermore, she suggested that management policies require a fundamental change. “In the past our discussions on spectrum efficiency have … focused almost exclusively on transmitters. But wireless communication is like a two-way street. It only exists when transmitters are connected to receivers. Going forward, policymakers need to focus on both transmitting and receiving … I believe it is time to take the next step in innovative spectrum management.”