FCC Adopts Rules for 3.45 GHz Auction Set to Start October 5, 2021

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) released a Public Notice establishing the application and bidding procedures for Auction 110. There will be 4,060 new flexible-use licenses to be auctioned in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band which are divided into ten 10-megahertz blocks by Partial Economic Areas (“PEAs”). The Short-Form Application window will open on July 8, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET and will close on July 21, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Upfront payments will be due by 6:00 p.m. ET on September 2, 2021. A mock auction will take place on September 30, 2021. Bidding starts on October 5, 2021. Similar to the 600 MHz band auction, Auction 110 will consist of a clock phase and an assignment phase.

New flexible-use licensees will be required to reimburse secondary, non-federal radiolocation operators for the relocation costs associated with their transitions to the 2.9–3.0 GHz band. All new licensees will be responsible for reimbursement of their pro rata share, meaning that the total relocation costs will be divided by the number of 3.45 GHz Service licenses and each licensee will be required to pay their share based on the number of licenses they hold. Additionally, there are Cooperative Planning Areas (“CPAs”) and Periodic Use Areas (“PUAs”) where auction winners will need to coordinate operations with incumbent federal military users.

The following bidding credits will be available:

Small Business Bidding Credit: a bidder that qualifies as a “small business”—i.e., one with attributed average annual gross revenues that do not exceed $55 million for the preceding five years—is eligible to receive a 15% discount on its overall payment.
Very Small Business Bidding Credit: a bidder that qualifies as a “very small business”—i.e., one with attributed average annual gross revenues that do not exceed $20 million for the preceding five years—is eligible to receive a 25% discount on its overall payment.
Rural Service Provider Bidding Credit: a bidder that qualifies as a rural service provider—i.e., (1) be a service provider that is in the business of providing commercial communications services and, together with its controlling interests, affiliates, and the affiliates of its controlling interests, has fewer than 250,000 combined wireless, wireline, broadband, and cable subscribers; and (2) serve predominantly rural areas—is eligible to receive a 15% discount on its overall payment.

If you have any questions, or are interested in participating in Auction 110, please contact Dee Herman at dee@hermanwhiteaker.com, Greg Whiteaker at greg@hermanwhiteaker.com, Clare Andonov at candonov@hermanwhiteaker.com or Hilary Rosenthal at hrosenthal@hermanwhiteaker.com.