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In August, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a notice of inquiry regarding what would become of the mid-band spectrum. The focus of this inquiry notice was C-band technology, which comprises of airwaves utilized by old satellite video signals, what roles this part of the spectrum will play in rural areas, along with other opportunities for next-generation wireless broadband services.

“C-band and 6 GHz are two bands the FCC wants people to pay more attention to moving forward,” said Rachael Bender, advisor for the FCC’s Wireless and International Office, who participated on the panel for the MWCA seminar Emerging Issues in Wireless: The FCC Legal Advisors’ Perspective.

The FCC definitely seems intent to move quickly on the next steps for these special frontiers, and is pushing hard to attain the 3-3.4 gigahertz band as well.

“These are areas they (the FCC) have been focusing because they saw support for additional connectivity,” Bender added. “We’ve heard from a lot of industries and international interests regarding C-bands. If mid-band will be 3.4 GHz for example, there can be more we’re capable of doing, so we wanted to use C-bands as a good place to start an initial discussion,”

Not only does the FCC have bands poised to address in a sequential order, but they added an FNPRM touch with hopes of opening additional spectrum. The aim is to move towards these items by the end of 2017.

“The team is doing everything they can to push forward on bands (in the order they were proposed), from 3.4 GHz and c-bands, to others more recently proposed,” Erin McGrath, a legal advisor for Wireless and Public Safety for the FCC, commented. “We want to get this done as quickly as possible and are hopeful something will happen this year,”

An important part about allocating this spectrum space is planning auctions. The FCC hopes to have a schedule in place to give all interested parties some knowledge and a time frame to prepare for bidding. In order to reach that step however, they need to establish rules for the first bands finalized, which aren’t close to completion just yet.

“Regarding these future bands, the FCC wants to look at all bands for potential future mobile use,” McGrath added. “In determining which bands will be moved (and when), we must continue paying attention to the requests each industry is asking for,”

The panelists offered some clarity after weeks of ambiguity on the topic as to what direction the FCC is headed on their handling of C-bands and 3.4 GHz. Exactly when the next steps like establishing rules and auctions will commence is unclear, but it’s fair to say we should keep a close eye on the situation, and anticipate more news in the coming weeks.

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