AT&T calls for auction of 28 GHz and 37-40 GHz bands by December 2018

AT&T called on the FCC to auction off spectrum in the 28 GHz and 37-40 GHz bands by December 2018, citing the need for more high-band airwaves to support 5G offerings.

The commission voted last year to allocate 11.65 GHz of spectrum as part of its Spectrum Frontiers initiative, with 3.85 GHz of licensed airwaves allocated in the 28 GHz and 37-40 GHz bands. Tomorrow the FCC will vote on an item that allocates 1.7 GHz of spectrum to be used for 5G.

AT&T praised the FCC for its progress in making more 5G-centric airwaves available for wireless use, suggesting that spectrum will be ideally suited for applications such as high-quality video and autonomous vehicles.

FCC commissioners “realize the challenge of achieving some of the key goals for 5G, such as ultra-high bandwidth, on the order of 20 GB/s, that will allow users to stream 4K video; ultra-low latency that will enable time-sensitive communications such as collision avoidance technology; and massive machine-type communications that will automate networks and industrial functions to a degree that we have never seen before,” wrote Stacey Black, AT&T’s assistant vice president of federal regulatory, in a blog post.

Black went on to say that AT&T’s field trials of 5G technology have yielded “promising” results, and that the carrier continues to work with others in the industry to develop standards. And the next major move of freeing up high-band airwaves should be a top priority for the FCC, Black said.

“Now that the Commission has the 5G ball rolling with spectrum allocations, we urgently need to get to the next step—auctioning this newly allocated spectrum so that mobile broadband providers can deploy as quickly as possible,” Black continued. “As an industry, we believe the best timing for auctioning the 28 GHz and 37-40 GHz bands is by December 2018. By this time, chipsets and equipment will be commercially available, FCC service rules will have been finalized, and standards will have evolved to appoint that permits commercial 5G network deployments in 2019. While we understand that there are challenges for an auction next year, we must find a way to make this happen.”

AT&T isn’t the only carrier lobbying the FCC to unleash high-band spectrum as quickly as it can, of course. More than a year ago, Verizon called for the commission to move quickly to make those same bands available for licensed use and to prohibit sharing in those bands and nearby bands.