FCC Sets Date for 3.5 GHz CBRS Auction, Seeks Comment on Procedures

The Federal Communications Commission (the “Commission” or “FCC”) has released a Public Notice seeking comment on proposed procedures for its auction of Priority Access Licenses (“PALs”) in the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (“CBRS”) Auction (“Auction 105”).  Bidding in Auction 105 is scheduled to begin on June 25, 2020.  The Commission will offer seven unpaired 10 MHz channel blocks in each county-based license area at auction, for a total of 22,631 PALs.  Bidders will be limited to acquiring up to four generic blocks per county. PALs are 10-year renewable licenses.

In the Public Notice, the Commission seeks comment on various proposed application and bidding procedures for Auction 105.  Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on its proposal to conduct Auction 105 as an ascending clock auction, similar to the 600 MHz and 24 GHz band auctions, in which bidders indicate their demands for generic license blocks in specific counties.  However, unlike the 600 MHz and 24 GHz band auctions, Auction 105 will not include an assignment phase because frequencies will be assigned by Spectrum Access Systems (“SAS”) frequency coordinators.  The FCC also seeks input on whether it should allow bidders to bid on “packages” at the Cellular Market Area (“CMA”) level for blocks in all of the counties comprising certain large CMAs.  Additionally, the Commission seeks comment on its proposal to cap small business bidding credits at $25 million per bidder, and at $10 million per bidder for rural service providers.  Finally, the Commission seeks comment on incorporating an “activity upper limit,” a new proposal in which bidders would be allowed to submit bids that exceed their current bidding eligibility to help mitigate the effect of rules that might otherwise cause participants to lose eligibility.  The Public Notice also contains proposals for upfront payments, minimum opening bids, bidder eligibility, and other auction procedures.  The proposed upfront payment amounts and minimum opening bid amounts can be viewed HERE.

Comments on the proposed procedures for Auction 105 are due October 28, 2019 and reply comments are due November 12, 2019.

If you have any questions, or would like to submit comments in this proceeding, please contact Clare L. Andonov at [email protected], Dee Herman at [email protected], or Molly O’Conor at [email protected].