Nokia government relations chief Brian Hendricks and senior counsel Jeffrey Marks met with the Federal Communications Commission last week to plead for accelerated efforts meant to realize the agency's plans to hold a 5G spectrum auction this year, according to the regulator's recently publicized ex patre filing. The Espoo, Finland-based telecommunications company spoke with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's adviser and senior counsel in order to reiterate its perceived importance of a timely 5G auction in the context of the country's plans to maintain its leadership in the segment.
Nokia wants the FCC's next auction to encompass both millimeter-wave and mid-band spectrum so as to allow the stateside wireless carriers to prepare for a wide(r) variety of 5G use cases. While Nokia believes the American mobile service providers already have sufficient holdings to support their early rollouts, it's skeptical about their ability to fully transition to the next generation of wireless communication that they expect will offer peak download speeds of up to 20Gbps, increasing the initial 5G data rates by a factor of ten. The Finnish telecom giant is now pushing the FCC to establish a firm timeline for auctioning off the spectrum necessary for accomplishing those goals within the next two years, urging it to hold its next 5G auction in the coming months.
The regulator already announced plans to start a 28GHz auction in November and follow up on it with a 24GHz one but requires Congress to remove the legal barriers to doing so with new legislation that must be enacted by May 13. Under the current set of rules, the FCC must have all bidders deposit upfront payments with private banks on interest-bearing accounts yet they're still legally unable to do so due to other regulations which Capitol Hill is presently in the process of revoking. Should the new legislation be implemented by mid-May, the FCC will be able to deposit such upfront payments directly with the U.S. Treasury. The issue already caused some friction between the FCC Commissioners and it remains to be seen whether the U.S. lawmakers manage to resolve it in time. Initial 5G deployment in the country is scheduled to start in the second half of 2018, with first large-scale buildouts being planned for early 2019.