The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has announced that he will direct his agency to auction off the nation’s long-awaited 5G spectrum.
Details of the auction have yet to be released, however in letters sent to lawmakers on Monday Pai noted he wishes to auction 280 megahertz of C-band spectrum for the service.
A debate among wireless service providers over the direction the auction will take has begun, with Verizon supporting a private auction as the fastest way to get the 5G spectrum to market. AT&T, however, has voiced concerns, saying in a recent FCC filing that it fears a private auction will become “mired in legal challenges”, and could threaten the release of the spectrum to the public altogether.
There is also the question of how much of the money raised through the auction will go to the U.S. Government. Republican Sen. John Kennedy and House Energy and Commerce communications subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle have called for the proceeds to go directly to the U.S. Treasury. Kennedy in particular has held meetings with Pai and given speeches in the Senate voicing concerns regarding a private sale.
The news of progress in the release of the 5G spectrum in the U.S. comes less than a week after China successfully flipped the switch on a massive 5G rollout of its own, bringing the service online for millions of people across 50 cities in the country.
Next steps involve the FCC voting on Pai’s plan, though further details are unavailable at this time.