FCC to hold big 5G auction, spend $20B for rural internet

The U.S. communications regulator will hold a massive auction to bolster 5G service, the next generation of mobile networks, and will spend $20 billion for rural internet.

5G will mean faster wireless speeds and has implications for technologies like self-driving cars and augmented reality. The rollout started last week in the U.S. and South Korea but will take years.

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it would hold the largest auction in U.S. history, of 3,400 megahertz, to boost wireless companies’ networks.

The FCC also says it will repurpose funds from existing programs to provide $20.4 billion connecting up to 4 million rural homes and small businesses to high-speed internet. There are 24 million Americans without access to broadband, and the problem is worst in rural areas.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Friday that he hopes to start the auction in December and the fund proceeding later this year.

The agency said he will talk about these 5G initiatives at a White House event with President Donald Trump later Friday.