The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will sell 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1900MHz band for commercial mobile services in an auction beginning Jan. 14, the agency announced Friday.
The agency set a minimum price for licenses in the so-called H block of $1.56 billion, with some of the money funding the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), a government board building a nationwide broadband network for public safety agencies.
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The auction will help mobile providers address a predicted spectrum shortage, said Mignon Clyburn, the FCC's acting chairwoman. The auction "will help close the spectrum gap as well as contributing to the goal of making mobile broadband available to our nation's first responders," she said in a statement.
Congress, in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, required the FCC to license 65 megahertz of spectrum, including the 10 megahertz in the H block, by February 2015.
The FCC has considered auctioning the 1915-1920MHz and 1995-2000MHz spectrum in the past, but concerns about interference with a nearby PCS block kept the commission from moving forward. An FCC order adopted in June created technical rules to keep the H block from interfering with PCS signals.
Commissioner Ajit Pai praised Clyburn for scheduling the auction. The spectrum "will help deliver bandwidth-intensive mobile services and applications" over mobile networks, he said in a statement.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.