CBRS PAL auction pushed back a month due to COVID-19

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to push back the auction of CBRS Priority Access Licenses (PALs) for the 3550-3650 MHz band, which was supposed to start June 25. Bidding for the auction will now begin on July 23.

The FCC’s Office of Economics and Analytics and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announced (PDF) the action today, “in order to protect the health and safety of Commission staff during the auction and so that parties have additional time to prepare to participate in Auction 105 given the COVID-19 pandemic.”

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said in a tweet that he and his staff had talked with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, and agreed it was the most appropriate action given the pandemic. O’Rielly has been the point person on mid-band spectrum at the commission, working closely with stakeholders in the 3.5 GHz band as well as the 3.7-4.2 GHz, also known as C-band.

The FCC’s media relations office confirmed to Fierce today that the C-band auction is still set to start on December 8.

The FCC is postponing indefinitely Auction 106, an auction of construction permits in the FM broadcast service that was scheduled to begin on April 28.  

“Many Americans have had to make tough decisions on how they do business in this rapidly changing environment, and the FCC is no different,” Chairman Pai said in a statement today. “After consulting agency staff within the relevant Bureaus and Offices, we determined that it was in everyone’s best interest to make these changes. But we remain committed to holding the 3.5 GHz auction this summer and look forward to beginning this important mid-band auction in July.”

RELATED: FCC sets bidding procedures for 3.5 GHz PAL auction

In a blog post Tuesday, Pai said he’s committed to using “every legal means at the FCC’s disposal” to help Americans deal with the coronavirus pandemic. He recounted how the FCC already has demonstrated that commitment in many ways.

One of the biggest things Pai has done amid the pandemic is the development of the Keep Americans Connected pledge to make sure that nobody loses broadband and phone service.

More than 500 broadband providers, big and small, have signed onto the pledge, committing not to terminate service to residential or small business subscribers for the next 60 days if they can’t pay due to the coronavirus. They also agreed not to impose late fees, and where possible, they’re opening up Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.