There’s a predicted spectrum shortage due to happen in the next few years. Which was kind of expected, especially with how quickly the cell phone industry has boomed over the past few years. The US Federal Communications Commission is going to sell 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1900MHz band for commercial mobile services in the auction that’s beginning January 14th.
Additionally, the agency has set a minimum license for the so-called H block of just $1.56 billion, with some of the money funding the First Responder Network Authority, a government board building a nationwide broadband network for public safety agencies. As noted already, this auction is going to help mobile providers address the upcoming spectrum shortage. The auction “will help close the spectrum gap as well as contributing to the goal of making mobile broadband available to our nation’s first responders”, the FCC Chairwoman said earlier today.
As part o the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Congress is requiring the FCC to license 65 megahertz of spectrum. This includes the 10 megahertz in the H block, by February 2015. Previously, the FCC had thought about auctioning off the 1915-1920MHz and the 1995-2000MHz spectrum, but there were concerns that it might interfere with nearby PCS block. However, a FCC order adopted in June created technical rules to jeep the H block from interfering with PCS signals.
Commissioner Ajit Pai was praising Clyburn in a statement today, for setting up the auction. The spectrum “will help deliver bandwidth-intensive mobile services and applications” over mobile networks. It is great to see more spectrum available for the carriers to bid on. However, I was kind of hoping we’d see lower spectrum, say around 700-800MHz? But then the FCC would have to keep Verizon and AT&T out of that auction as they already have 700MHz spectrum and Sprint and T-Mobile do not, which is a major reason why their indoor coverage is pretty bad.
So we’ll find out more about the auction as we get closer to January. But it’s going to get interesting between now and then.