The next-generation of wireless technologies – known as 5G – is expected to revolutionize business and consumer connectivity, offering network speeds that are up to 100 times faster than 4G LTE, reducing latency to nearly zero, and allowing networks to handle 100 times the number of connected devices, enabling the “Internet of Things.” Leading policymakers – federal regulators and legislators – are making it a top priority to ensure that the wireless industry has the tools it needs to maintain U.S. leadership in commercial 5G deployments. This blog provides monthly updates on FCC actions and Congressional efforts to win the race to 5G.
Regulatory Actions and Initiatives
- The FCC confirms the inventory of licenses for the next auction of mid-band spectrum and reminds applicants about prohibited communications.
- The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“WTB”) and Office of Economics and Analytics released a Public Notice on May 6, 2022, explaining that they will not make any further adjustments to the inventory of licenses that will be made available in the auction of spectrum in the 2496-2690 GHz (“2.5 GHz”) band, which will begin on July 29, 2022. The list of licenses, available here, was last updated on April 15, 2022, and will only be revised depending on the disposition of pending Rural Tribal Priority Window applications.
- The Public Notice further reminds applicants that they must conduct their own due diligence, but cautions that applicants are also subject to the FCC’s rule prohibiting certain communications during the auction, which went into effect on May 10, 2022 at 6:00 pm ET.
- The FCC grants licenses for spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band for commercial 5G wireless services.
- On May 4, 2022, the WTB released a Public Notice announcing that it has granted 23 applications and issued 4,041 licenses for spectrum in the 3.45-3.55 GHz (“3.45 GHz”) band, the auction for which concluded on January 4, 2022. A list of the licenses granted, sorted by licensee, is available here, and a list of the same licenses, sorted by market number, is available here. The Public Notice states that these lists include all applications and licenses for spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band and reminds licensees that they must reimburse the reasonable relocation costs of incumbent secondary, non-federal radiolocation users to transition out of the band, as well as coordinate with certain federal incumbents remaining in the band.
- The FCC takes several actions related to the C-band so that it may continue to be made available for 5G wireless services.
- On May 12, 2022, the FCC’s International Bureau issued a Public Notice notifying certain incumbent earth stations operating in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band (“C-band”) that they have been reported as inactive, over-registered, or not currently receiving service from a C-band satellite – meaning they would not be considered incumbent earth stations entitled to the costs for relocating out of the spectrum so that it may be made available for commercial wireless services. The earth station operators, a list of which is available here, have until August 10, 2022 to submit a filing to affirm their operations in the band.
- In addition, on May 23, 2022, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing that a Petition for Reconsideration filed by AT&T of the Commission’s procedures for resolving disputes before the C-band Relocation Payment Clearinghouse was filed. Oppositions to AT&T’s Petition will be due June 17, with replies due June 27.
- Finally, the FAA adopted an airworthiness directive on May 23, 2022 for several Boeing aircraft, which was prompted by the FAA’s determination that radio altimeters in the aircraft cannot be relied upon to perform their intended function if they experience interference from C-band 5G deployments. The airworthiness directive revises the flight manuals’ limitations and operating procedures sections to incorporate specific procedures when in the presence of 5G interference. Comments on the airworthiness directive are due July 7, 2022.
Other Regulatory Actions
- NTIA announces additional 5G Challenge contestants.
- On May 20, 2022, NTIA announced 5G Challenge contestants selected from final white paper entries, including Radisys Corp., Signal System Management, Capgemini Engineering, Mavenir Systems, Inc., and Fujitsu Network Communications. During the first year of the challenge, entries for which are now closed, a portion of the total $3 million prize purse will be awarded. The rules, location, and details of the second-year event will be released in 2023.
- The House introduces a bipartisan bill to extend the FCC’s auction authority.
- On May 16, 2022, Representatives Davids, Joyce, Welch, and Johnson introduced the Extending America’s Spectrum Auction Leadership Act of 2022, which would extend the FCC’s general auction authority to March 31, 2024. The FCC’s auction authority is set to expire on September 30, 2022.
- On May 24, 2022, the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing entitled “Strengthening our Communications Networks: Legislation to Connect and Protect.” The purpose of the hearing was to consider the Extending America’s Spectrum Auction Leadership Act, among other wireless-related bills. Several subcommittee members urged the House to pass the bill, which would enable the FCC to hold the 2.5 GHz auction, discussed above, without interruption. During the hearing, the subcommittee also considered the Simplifying Management, Reallocation, and Transfer of Spectrum (SMART) Act, which would require NTIA to implement a standardized framework to facilitate spectrum sharing between federal and non-federal entities.