FCC chairman Ajit Pai has been pressing for an auction of "mid-band" wireless spectrum that could be useful for expanding the reach of 5G, and on Friday the commission for just such a redistribution. The rules cover "C-Band" spectrum that satellite companies like Intelsat, SES SA and Telesat are currently using, and include payment incentives for those companies to speed plans to shift operations away from those frequencies by dates in 2021 and 2023. Otherwise, the spectrum will need to be freed up no later than December 5th, 2025.
Those payments could add up to $9.7 billion, and dissenting FCC commissioners argued that there wasn't enough consideration on how much they should be or how funds from the auction should be distributed, and that the FCC was misusing its powers under the law. Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement () that, "We could start a fund a new initiative to help with rural broadband. We could fund the nation's transition to next-generation 911, which is sorely needed and would benefit public safety in every state. Or we could use some of the revenues to seed a Homework Gap Trust Fund to help our nation's students stuck in the digital divide. It could support WiFi hotspots for loan in every school library—and virtually eliminate the Homework Gap overnight."