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Blog

Blog

February 27, 2018

Setting U.S. Spectrum Policy On the Right Path for 5G Leadership .

Setting U.S. Spectrum Policy On the Right Path for 5G Leadership

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Scott Bergmann
Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs

The global race to 5G is on, and spectrum will play a critical role. That’s why yesterday was an encouraging day with key announcements by NTIA and the FCC—both made with one goal in mind: America’s continued leadership in the next-generation of wireless.

First, NTIA Administrator David Redl announced his agency has identified 100 MHz of key mid-band government spectrum for potential commercial use.

Located in the 3450-3550 MHz band, this spectrum is currently used by military radar systems. With a new study soon to be underway, the Department of Defense has committed to exploring how commercial wireless services could leverage this key band without harm to current users.

Such an approach is a “win-win” for our national security objectives and America’s wireless consumers—and also for U.S. efforts to win the global race to 5G.

Countries around the world—like China, Japan, Australia, and the U.K.—are looking to mid-band spectrum as a critical input to 5G. That’s because these frequencies will deliver next-gen wireless networks and unlock the full potential of the Internet of Things.

With the FCC already moving forward with the adjacent 3550-3700 MHz band—subject to some key decisions still to be made—today’s NTIA announcement could offer a large contiguous swath of spectrum for 5G services.

At the same time, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the agency would schedule two high-band auctions, beginning in November.  Chairman Pai’s announcement is a critical, momentum-building step toward ensuring U.S. spectrum policy keeps pace with our industry’s 5G investments and commitments.

That’s because high-band spectrum will play a key role in the development and deployment of 5G. We saw this during the Winter Olympics this month, with South Korea trialing the use of high-band spectrum. And here too, countries like China are also actively looking at these airwaves.

U.S. wireless providers and equipment manufacturers have been leading the way with 5G trials in these bands. But now is the time for establishing a spectrum pipeline, and the investment-boosting certainty that comes with those commitments.   A 5G-focused spectrum pipeline can and should include other high bands that have already been allocated, as well as low- and mid-band spectrum.

Because now that key 5G standards have been adopted, we all need to be working toward a shared goal—ensuring U.S. leadership in 5G deployment.

Yesterday’s announcements show that key policymakers like Chairman Pai and Administrator Redl understand this dynamic. And that they understand what’s at stake: $275 billion in industry investment, according to Accenture, along with 3 million new jobs and $500 billion in economic growth.

Infrastructure is the other piece of the puzzle. Whether in Congress, at the FCC, or in states across the country, crafting new rules for new 5G networks is critical.

Let’s build on the momentum of yesterday’s spectrum developments to ensure we can build the wireless networks of tomorrow and unlock the economic benefits that flow from continued mobile leadership.

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