News Feature | April 21, 2020

The Week in 5G: 4/21/2020 — List of Delayed Spectrum Auctions Grows; S. Korea Plans mmWave 5G Network in 2020

By Ed Biller


Yet another nation has had its 5G spectrum auction delayed by the ongoing COVIC-19 pandemic. As previously reported here, Spain, Portugal, and France all have delayed their auctions, and Poland now has pushed back indefinitely its 3.6 GHz auction, which had been slated for April 23, 2020.

Poland’s Office of Electronic Communications (Urzad Komunikacji Elektronicznej) had planned to auction off four 15-year licenses, reports Total Telecom.

Various sources have reported that Slovakia plans to move forward with a 700 MHz spectrum auction in late May, while Montenegro will auction spectrum in the 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz, and 26 GHz bands in the latter half of 2021.

In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved Ligado’s application to deploy “a low-power terrestrial nationwide network in the L-Band that will primarily support 5G and Internet of Things services,” according to an FCC press release.  

The approval stipulates that Ligado must provide a “significant (23 MHz) guard-band” within its own licensed spectrum, as well as limit its base station power levels to 9.8 dBW — a 99.3 percent dropoff from the levels proposed in the satcom company’s 2015 application — in addition to other precautions.

Still, the decision to release L-band spectrum —and the possibility that band’s use could interfere with GPS — did not sit well with much of the U.S. federal government. “The Defense, Commerce and Transportation Departments are against it, as are the leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees,” reports SpaceNews.

Network deployments also have continued nearly unabated during the pandemic, as both Verizon and T-Mobile US have continued uninterrupted construction and still plan to migrate to standalone 5G some time in 2020, according to a report by Mobile World Live. Per the report, US Cellular, too has continued with new 5G site activations and plans to continue deployments through the rest of the year.

In South Korea, sources have told The Korea Herald that nation’s major telecoms plan to commercialize an “ultrafast mmWave 5G network this year,” reports RCR Wireless.

“According to the report, the mmWave 5G service will be initially available for the business-to-business segment. Operators have not yet finalized investment plans for the business-to-consumer sector, as the cost of building additional infrastructure still represents a major issue,” RCR Wireless reported.

In technology news, 9to5Mac reports (citing an Economic Daily News article) that supply chain disruptions stemming from the pandemic will delay Apple’s planned Fall 2020 release of the first 5G iPad until 2021.

Finally, deniers of both scientific evidence and common sense continue to vandalize 5G towers and abuse communications workers — some pinning the spread of COVID-19 on 5G radiation in online posts or videos, others ranting about mind control or human sterilization.

“Some 50 fires targeting cell towers and other equipment have been reported in Britain this month, leading to three arrests. Telecom engineers have been abused on the job 80 times, according to trade group Mobile UK, making the U.K. the nucleus of the attacks,” reports ABC News, “Some 16 [towers] have been torched in the Netherlands, with attacks also reported in Ireland, Cyprus, and Belgium.”