JBG Smith purchases broadband spectrum from FCC
$25.3M acquisition will allow developer to build 5G infrastructure in National Landing
JBG Smith announced Monday it has purchased seven blocks of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum in Arlington County and Alexandria from the Federal Communications Commission, an acquisition that will allow the Bethesda, Maryland-based developer to build a 5G network in the National Landing area, where Amazon.com Inc. is building its HQ2 East Coast headquarters.
A JBG Smith subsidiary, SEAD LLC, purchased seven Priority Access Licenses — four in Arlington, three in Alexandria — for more than $25 million in an FCC auction that closed in late August, the company said in a news release Monday. The licenses, which total 70 MHz, span 16.2 million square feet in National Landing and Potomac Yard. With Amazon building its HQ2 headquarters and others — including Virginia Tech and George Mason University — building facilities that will also have high-tech needs, the broadband spectrum purchase will provide connectivity for 5G and other technology infrastructure, JBG Smith officials said. It could also draw defense and cybersecurity, cloud computing, internet of things and artificial intelligence sectors to the area, the company added.
“Our investment in next-generation connectivity infrastructure will further cement National Landing as a premier global destination for entrepreneurs, universities and global technology companies to ideate, innovate and scale globally,” Evan Regan-Levine, JBG Smith’s executive vice president of strategic innovation and research, said in a statement.
The FCC raised close to $4.6 billion in auction bids in August, mainly from mobile phone and cable companies — Verizon, Cox and Comcast among them. The University of Virginia and Virginia Tech foundations also purchased licenses — six bought by U.Va. for $118,200 and eight by Virginia Tech for $1.1 million. Not all spectrum locations are equal, though: JBG Smith’s seven licenses in Northern Virginia were far more expensive, at $25.27 million.
Traditionally, the CBRS band was used by the government for military radar and satellite stations, and it will still be in use for those purposes as an “incumbent user,” according to a report by Cablefax. Each license is for three years, and according to rules released by the FCC in 2017, new users must not cause harmful interference to military or government users.