The United States Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday moved to hold the next millimeter-wave spectrum auction in mid-November as part of its latest efforts meant to facilitate the deployment of the fifth generation of wireless networks in the country. The regulator proposed two auctions, with the first one being set to begin on November 14 and auction off spectrum blocks in the 28GHz band, whereas the second one will deal in the 24GHz frequency and begin immediately following the conclusion of the initial process. The proposal was delivered in the form of a Public Notice that's open to comments on the plan, as is customary for spectrum auctions organized by the FCC.
The regulator is ultimately seeking to sell some 6,000 spectrum licenses as part of the two auctions and wants the events to have separate filing windows. The feedback sought by the FCC should primarily pertain to the possibility that the regulator resorts to enforcing any particular rules or limitations on the two auctions. The move was directly enabled by recent legislative changes that resolved some legal contradictions regarding FCC-organized spectrum auctions, particularly in terms of upfront payments that the federal agency is meant to insist are deposited by all interested bidders prior to any such process beginning. South Korea and China are already holding similar auctions this year, with the global consensus being that mmWave spectrum is a key part of the 5G equation due to the significantly improved capacities and latencies it can enable compared to 4G LTE solutions.
Deploying such spectrum goes hand-in-hand with small cell buildouts given how mmWave frequencies aren't suitable for traveling over long distances and must be relayed by supporting infrastructure every so often in order to consistently reach their destinations without being absorbed by buildings, rain, or foliage. The FCC has hence also been pushing to accelerate small cell deployment in the U.S. over the last several months, primarily by moving to eliminate certain red tape that's still preventing wireless carriers from conducting effective buildouts, according to their own statements.