The United States and Switzerland have made early moves to auction off 5G spectrum with many more countries set to follow.
The U.S. is in the midst of auctioning millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28 GHz band, with combined bids exceeding $696 million by the end of Tuesday. Once this auction is completed it will be followed by an auction of spectrum in the 24 GHz band.
Switzerland this month is also set to begin an auction of spectrum in the 700 MHz, 1.4 GHz, 2.6 GHz, and 3.5 GHz bands.
Indeed, 2019 is set to be an important year for 5G spectrum allocations — and not just because of the many auctions that are planned. The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) is scheduled for October, and is expected to have a significant impact on the future availability and harmonization of radio spectrum resources for 5G. Among other aspects, it will consider spectrum for mobile broadband in frequencies between the 24.25 GHz and 86 GHz bands.
The GSMA has recommended supporting the 26 GHz, 40 GHz, and 66 GHz-71 GHz bands for mobile, while the 28 GHz band is also emerging as an important mmWave band for 5G.
The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) regularly tracks 5G spectrum licensing developments worldwide. In an update last month, the association said there were 45 countries that are formally considering introducing certain spectrum bands for terrestrial 5G services, that have reserved spectrum for 5G, have announced plans to auction frequencies, or have already allocated spectrum for 5G use.
Ten countries have recently completed 5G licensing procedures in at least one spectrum band. These include Australia, Finland, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. Czechia, Germany, Greece, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, and the U.S. have also completed spectrum allocations that could include, but does not necessarily require, 5G.
Sixteen countries have announced formal plans for allocating 5G-suitable frequencies between now and the end of 2020, and 13 countries have stated plans to auction spectrum that can potentially be enabled for 5G use, the GSA added.
Countries where auctions or the assignment of spectrum is due to take place include Austria (3.4 GHz-3.8 GHz in February 2019), Japan (4.4 GHz–4.9 GHz, 3.6 GHz–4.2 GHz, and the 28 GHz band by March 2019), Canada (600 MHz in March 2019) and Hong Kong (24.25 GHz–27.5 GHz and 27.5 GHz-28.35 GHz by April 2019).
Germany has also announced its final auction terms for spectrum around the 2 GHz and 3.7 GHz–3.8 GHz bands, which is set for this spring. However, the government’s regulator is currently faces legal action over the license conditions from Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica Deutschland, and Vodafone Germany.