In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began Auction 110 on 5 October, allowing operators another chance to acquire mid-band spectrum for 5G. The auction will offer 100 MHz in the 3.45–3.55 GHz band, with spectrum being auctioned in each of the US’s partial economic areas (PEAs). In total, 33 applicants have qualified to bid in Auction 110, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile US and Dish Network.
In addition to low- and high-band spectrum, mid-band spectrum is vital to unlocking the full potential of 5G, as it offers an important balance between coverage and capacity. This was emphasised by the previous mid-band spectrum auction in the US, which exceeded all price predictions, with $81 billion in total spent. Prices paid in the auction also ended up being 3.5× higher than the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) mid-band auction, bringing to attention the potential of the licensed spectrum versus the shared approach offered by CBRS. While spectrum sharing can play a complementary role, it cannot supplant the need for an exclusively licensed spectrum.