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May 2, 2019

Next Steps to Continue our Global Wireless Leadership .

Next Steps to Continue our Global Wireless Leadership

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Nick Ludlum
Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer

Earlier this month, CTIA held its 5G Summit, bringing together policymakers and top executives from all parts of the wireless ecosystem to discuss the U.S.’s progress in deploying next-generation networks and the policies we need to continue our global wireless leadership.

Key policy actions in the past year—infrastructure reforms at all levels of government and bringing more spectrum to market—helped propel the U.S. from third place in the race to 5G to a tie with China for first. The U.S. was the first nation to roll out large-scale commercial deployments and work continues in earnest this year to bring 5G to many more communities across America.

But speakers also cautioned that the race is far from over. As CTIA President & CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said:

Our latest research shows the United States leapt up the 5G rankings, we’re tied with China leading the world in 5G. This is great news, but we can’t celebrate yet. Our global rivals are committed to 5G. China’s ambitions grow day by day. To win, we need a lot of good years.”

There was broad consensus that policymakers can take three key actions to continue our momentum and maintain our global wireless leadership:

1) Create a five-year schedule of spectrum auctions, with an emphasis on allocating mid-band.

More high-, mid-, and low-band spectrum is needed to fuel 5G networks and keep pace with other nations, especially when it comes to mid-band where the U.S. faces a deficit. More spectrum will unleash economic benefits too: a five-year auction schedule would add 1.8 million jobs and $391 billion to the U.S. economy.

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“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

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“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

2) Recommit to proven free market approaches that harness the power of competition to enhance our nation’s economic and national security.

Free-market principles played a foundational role in the U.S. winning the race to 4G. Continued commitment to free and open markets and the competition they foster are essential to continuing the U.S.’s legacy as the home of technology innovation as the industry rolls out 5G.

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“I want to note how well we did on 4G, we will apply the exact same free enterprise principles for 5G. That is our policy. We will continue the process of auctioning off spectrum and then letting the private companies run with it.” – National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow

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“We think the best way for the government to proceed is to create the building blocks for 5G innovation, and then let the private sector take the lead. That means getting the spectrum out there, allowing for infrastructure to be deployed at scale, and then letting the private markets take the lead.” – FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

3) Continue to ease barriers to 5G infrastructure deployment.

While much progress was made in the past year to streamline the siting of next-gen wireless infrastructure, policymakers can continue to remove barriers and speed 5G deployment. States and localities can continue to update their siting rules—beyond the FCC’s baseline—to compete for 5G investment capital. And policymakers at the federal level can further streamline siting on federal properties and lands to expedite the deployment of next-generation wireless networks.

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“Zoning and permitting [has been] a great effort by FCC Chairman Pai [and it’s] driving the acceleration of the small cell deployments. We need to … [come] up with more standardized, harmonized small cell solutions so we can run faster otherwise others will catch up and they will leave us behind.” – Niklas Heuveldop, Ericsson North America President & CEO

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“What's going to slow us down… [there’s been] great work so far on siting, but we still have challenges in places. – Ken Meyers, U.S. Cellular President & CEO

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