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April 18, 2019

More Spectrum is Key to America’s 5G Future .

More Spectrum is Key to America’s 5G Future


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Nick Ludlum
Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer

CTIA’s 5G Summit brought together leading policymakers and executives from across the wireless industry to discuss the latest 5G developments and the policies needed to ensure American leadership in 5G networks.

A driving theme at the summit was the need for more spectrum in the U.S.—particularly mid-band spectrum—to realize the full potential of next-generation networks and maintain our global wireless leadership.

The Need for Mid-band Spectrum

Mid-band spectrum is a key building block for 5G, thanks to its ability to travel far and offer high capacity for mobile traffic. Compared to the U.S., other countries are making 4x more critical mid-band spectrum available for 5G by the end of 2020. Speaker after speaker emphasized that rectifying the mid-band spectrum deficit should be a top priority.


“[I]f we're going to bring the benefits of 5G out to the masses at least in the [more rural] markets that I serve, it's going to have to be with mid-band … [T]he promise is there, the opportunity is there. But we need spectrum and it's got to be in mid-band.”– Ken Meyers, President and CEO, U.S. Cellular


“Spectrum is the lifeblood of wireless networks and it's no secret that a key enabler to 5G is large amounts of new bandwidth, particularly in the mid-band....” –Ronan Dunne, President, Verizon Wireless


“We made tremendous progress to date, but we need to do a lot more to deliver on the full 5G vision. The first [step] is mid-band spectrum.” – Mike Murphy, Chief Technology Officer, Nokia North America

Ensuring American Leadership in 5G

While many speakers noted the U.S. lead in 5G deployments to date, they also recognized that other countries continue to take action to support 5G. The global emphasis on mid-band airwaves—Japan, South Korea, Spain and the UK have already brought hundreds of megahertz of mid-band spectrum to market—underscores the importance of U.S. policymakers acting quickly to free up hundreds of megahertz of mid-band spectrum.


“Mid-band has both coverage and capacity for our 5G needs, and it goes far and carries a lot of data. Our global rivals have four times the amount of mid-band that we have here in the United States.” – Meredith Attwell Baker, President and CEO, CTIA


“We have to accelerate our efforts, because China is not remaining at a standstill. In fact, they have more spectrum, more infrastructure, and more capital than any other country, which will help them moving forward.” -Michael Combes, CEO, Sprint

Keeping Up Auction Momentum

Speakers were clear about the need to keep up the momentum of spectrum auctions as large-scale 5G deployments continue. Developing a five-year schedule of key low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum auctions will give providers the spectrum they need to build out world-leading networks and create substantial economic benefits—adding nearly $400 billion to the U.S. economy and creating over 1.8 million new jobs.


“We need a lot of mid-band and we need it right away… It’s really important that we get access to spectrum and we get it with clear deadlines. The sooner we set deadlines, everything kind of marches to it.” –Ken Meyers, President and CEO, U.S. Cellular


“We will continue the process of auctioning off spectrum and then letting the private companies run with it.” – Larry Kudlow, Director, National Economic Council

Mid-band is critical to 5G because it offers high capacity for data-intensive applications as well as the ability to transmit signals over longer distances. With no mid-band auctions currently scheduled, policymakers need to move quickly to free up more of this needed spectrum to support our 5G networks.

The reallocation and release of more spectrum will provide a significant boost to the industry’s efforts to bring the next generation of wireless to the United States.

CTIA 5G Summit

CTIA’s 5G Summit brought together leaders from business and government who are making 5G a reality.

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