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FCC announces 5G spectrum auction and $20 billion investment for rural broadband access

By onetheycallEric · 11 replies
Apr 14, 2019
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  1. The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that it would hold the biggest spectrum auction in U.S. history, aimed at bolstering 5G network deployment. The bidding will see roughly 3,400 megahertz across three spectrum bands auctioned off for commercial use.

    The FCC will auction millimeter-wave spectrum at three frequency bands: 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz. High-band airwave frequencies are considered ideal for 5G, but some fear the U.S. is overlooking the importance of mid-band frequencies.

    The auction is scheduled to start in December and may be the largest in the country's history, but not the first; since November 2018 around 1.5GHz of spectrum licenses have been sold for 5G. The FCC also stated that there would be more auctions after this one.

    The current FCC administration has long touted "closing the digital divide," and The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is the latest initiative in that vein. Chairman Ajit Pai has announced a proposal that would "re-purpose" funds from other FCC subsidies and allocate them into a $20.4 billion fund. Those funds would then be apportioned among ISPs to lay fiber in underserved areas with the long term goal to connect 4 million homes over 10 years.

    Pai's proposal is an extension of the Connect America Fund from 2015, itself a part of the Universal Service Fund (USF). The CAF granted funding for rural broadband build out, assuming providers could finish the build out by 2020 and connect rural customers at 10Mbps download speeds. For service providers to qualify for The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, they have to be able to supply 25 Mbps downstream connections in rural areas.

    Pai's office offered a statement to reporters, saying The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will "provide up to gigabit-speed broadband in the parts of the country most in need of connectivity."

    By the Commission's estimation, over 30 million Americans don't have access to modern broadband. Although, the numbers reported by the FCC have been widely scrutinized, due to both errors in data collection and the general consensus that the FCC overestimates the adoption of broadband in the States. Point being, the digital divide is real, but it's also hard to determine how many Americans are on which side of that divide.

    More network providers are gearing up for 5G, and AT&T has already been roasted for its misleading 5GE branding -- Sprint even filed a lawsuit. For more on 5G, check out our feature, The State of 5G: When It's Coming, How Fast It Will Be & The Sci-Fi Future It Will Enable which explains the various hurdles and implications 5G will bring for consumers and the industry in general.

    Permalink to story.

  2. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,235   +894

    It's so funny how my phone on AT&T "says" 5g right now, yet I know it ain't.

    It's gonna be a few years before 5G coverage is ubiquitous here.

    And considering I run more than 25GB of data through my phone per month, and my "unlimited" data plan threatens to throttle me after 16GB...how much will this 5G really benefit me?
    loki1944, Mjswooosh and psycros like this.
  3. loki1944

    loki1944 TS Addict Posts: 151   +89

    Doesn't matter with the exploitive data caps
    Mjswooosh and psycros like this.
  4. BrokenBarney

    BrokenBarney TS Rookie

    You guy's whine like you know what it's like not to have access to good internet. Try fighting for 8 years because your internet doesn't work right and you're gave no other choice but one provider and your highest speed is 3 MBPS, I would doing flips over 16 Gigs of full time working internet. So come out here and join us in cooper line land were the serve is shity or just stay quiet will they try to catch us up with the rest of you, so we can complain about your horrible service too.
  5. DaveBob

    DaveBob TS Rookie

    mmWave radio doesn't go more than a few hundred feet. So far, results in this band have been lackluster. This auction won't help expand broadband to mailbox land.
  6. BrokenBarney

    BrokenBarney TS Rookie

    But a failing cooper wire system doesn't do a whole lot of good either and I'm sorry I don't feel bad for people who have their internet speeds slowed down to 16 gigs they still have way better then people like me that are suck on this old system wishing we had 16 gigs of slowed down service, because that's more 4x faster then then service we have if it works.
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,874   +1,526

    The 5G is inappropriate for rural deployment as the wave propagation is too short for long haul. Even in urban settings, towers need to be reasonably close together (a few hundred feet) to provide coverage.

    Bidders will IMO deploy in urban settings and ignore rural America, at least not include 5G.

    Thank you Pai for demonstrating you ignorance of technology.
  8. BrokenBarney

    BrokenBarney TS Rookie

    I didn't even want to comment on the date of the auction, as I said in one of my earlier posts I have been fighting with my provider for 8 years. The auction date is just another kick in the teeth, because if and when my area is bidded on it could still take years for them to do the work.
  9. DaveBob

    DaveBob TS Rookie

    I understand your plight. I have family 15 miles east of Austin whose only option is a $45/mo 3g dongle doing a couple Mb/s at best.
  10. BrokenBarney

    BrokenBarney TS Rookie

    The provider we have is bending us over, our bill is $96 a month for a speed of 3 mbps at its best which it never is and most the time we are lucky to keep it at around 2 mbps, so any upgrade would be great for us. But lets keep hearing from these people on how this system and that system just isn't strong enough for in the cities, well guess what change service provider's, out here we don't have but one choice in a service provider, at least you have choices in provider's and strong internet signal. You wouldn't know how to live if your internet slowed to 2 or 3 mbps.
  11. DaveBob

    DaveBob TS Rookie

    A few places have wireless access on the 2.5 Ghz
    They're trying real hard to get the 2.5 gig WISP band modernized.
    This may happen faster than "5g".
  12. BrokenBarney

    BrokenBarney TS Rookie

    There is a company in town about 15 miles from us that has radio wave internet they started out telling us it would be available in a few months, to it will be available next summer and now it going to be a year or two, yet they keep adding their services in all kinds of areas that already have other choices

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