FCC approves $9.7 billion payout to satellite companies to clear spectrum for 5G

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to approve a payment package of $9.7 billion to satellite companies using the 3.7GHz to 3.98GHz band, to clear 280MHz of spectrum that will be auctioned to 5G carriers. This “C-band” spectrum is important for 5G development, and the auction could begin in December of this year and continue into early 2021 with multiple rounds of bidding covering different blocks of spectrum and geographic areas.

The mid band spectrum is important for carriers, as it offers a compromise between speeds and distance. Currently, US carriers have had to choose between high band frequencies that offer great speeds but poor coverage, or low band frequencies that offer less of a speed advantage but can provide much better coverage.

The FCC vote does not guarantee that the satellite companies will accept the payments and relinquish the frequency, but it is a step in the right direction for the future of 5G.