CTIA, CCA urge FCC to add 37, 39 and 47 GHz bands to 24 GHz auction

CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) don’t always see eye to eye, but both organizations are urging the FCC to add the 37, 39 and 47 GHz bands to the auction of the 24 GHz band.

Specifically, CTIA recommends these bands be combined “to the extent that doing so would not cause substantial delay.” The organization points out that not only have these bands been the focus of standards and technology development, but the commission already has adopted technical and licensing rules for these bands, making them ripe for auction as soon as possible, according to a May 9 filing (PDF) with the commission.

The CCA continues to urge the FCC to auction all millimeter wave spectrum simultaneously, and at a minimum it would like to see the 37, 39 and 47 GHz bands combined with the 24 GHz in one auction, saying that delaying auction of these other bands could stymie the development of millimeter wave equipment. And, if the commission decides not to auction all of these bands simultaneously, it should at least auction the 47 GHz band with the 24 GHz band, according to CCA’s filing (PDF).

RELATED: FCC kicks off comment period on 28 GHz, 24 GHz auctions

T-Mobile, a CCA member, has repeatedly urged the commission to auction all millimeter wave spectrum at once. But in its May 9 filing (PDF), it said if the government intends to hold the 28 GHz and 24 GHz auctions, it should provide sufficient time between the two quiet periods to allow carriers to assess the results of the first auction and prepare for the second. 

CTIA also is concerned about the implications if the commission adopts a proposal to apply the anti-collusion rules across two auctions and include applicants in both. “Given the ambiguity of the Commission’s anti-collusion rules, longer application of the rules could have a chilling effect on the wireless industry’s ability to conduct non-auction related business negotiations, as providers traditionally have shied away from any such discussions to avoid the appearance of impropriety,” the association said.

CCA says the FCC should not apply its anti-collusion rules from the 600 MHz incentive auction to millimeter wave auctions and it should clarify that each individual millimeter wave auction will have a separate and distinct quiet period. As currently drafted, the commission’s anti-collusion rules for the 28 and 24 GHz auctions are “overly restrictive for carriers, including those other than the nationwide carriers, in both application and breadth,” the association said.

It’s worth noting that CTIA also is urging the FCC to develop and release a calendar that outlines the commission’s plans for auctioning additional high- and mid-band spectrum for 5G.

At least a couple of the FCC’s own commissioners have said a calendar of upcoming spectrum auctions would help the industry. During last month’s open FCC meeting, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the commission needs to publish a calendar that states clearly to the entire wireless ecosystem just when and how the FCC will auction new airwaves to support 5G services. Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly also has called on the agency to let wireless providers know when other auctions will be held so they can formulate their business plans, create auction strategies and obtain the financial resources they need to participate.

RELATED: Editor’s Corner—Does the race to 5G really matter?

CTIA continues to argue that it is imperative that the U.S. retain its wireless leadership in the transition to 5G. South Korea will be auctioning spectrum in the 28 GHz band in June. China has launched a consultation regarding the planning and use of millimeter wave spectrum for 5G and expects to conduct trials in more than 100 cities in 20 provinces.

Editor's Note: Article updated in all references to say it's the 47 GHz band, not 42 GHz, that is being requested to be added to the 24 GHz band auction.