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June 11, 2018

The AIRWAVES Act Provides Critical 5G Spectrum & Encourages Rural Wireless Deployment .

The AIRWAVES Act Provides Critical 5G Spectrum & Encourages Rural Wireless Deployment


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Kelly Cole
Senior Vice President, Government Affairs

CTIA’s Race to 5G Summit brought together policymakers and industry leaders to talk about our 5G future and the policies we need to maintain America’s global wireless leadership.

Everyone agreed on one key point: the need for more spectrum to help us win the race to 5G, unleash the Internet of Things, and meet increasing consumer demand for everything wireless.

And everyone pointed to one important piece of the solution: the AIRWAVES Act. This bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Sens. Gardner (R-CO) and Hassan (D-NH) and Reps. Lance (R-NJ) and Doyle (D-PA), will help by unlocking hundreds of MHz of new low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum. With nations such as China and South Korea already releasing new spectrum for 5G, the bands identified in the AIRWAVES Act are critical for U.S. leadership in the race to 5G.

The Simple Reality—More Spectrum Is Needed.

Leaders from across the wireless industry spoke about the limits of existing spectrum and the need for spectrum to support 5G networks and applications.


“[Some] of our customers … may hit what I call "LTE exhaust" in the 2021-2023 timeframe. And what I mean by that is they'll hit a wall where with the current spectrum… won't be able to go any further. It won't be able to carry that demand.” – Mike Murphy, CTO North America, Nokia


“…I think it's important at least get the [spectrum] calendar and… have a conversation around what bands we're talking and what timeframe.” – Marachel Knight, SVP, Technology Planning & Engineering, AT&T


“You need low-band spectrum for reliability and to create nationwide coverage... You need mid-band spectrum for consistent capacity and speed. And then finally, you need [high-band] spectrum in dense urban environments for specific use cases that require capabilities such as low latency or gigabit speeds.” – Karri Kuoppamaki, VP Network Technology Development & Strategy, T-Mobile USA

Creating a Spectrum Pipeline with the AIRWAVES Act.

At the event, members of Congress—including the bill’s Senate co-sponsors—recognized the need for more spectrum, pointing to the AIRWAVES Act as a way to create a reliable, multi-year spectrum pipeline to support 5G.


“The AIRWAVES Act establishes a spectrum pipeline that will provide more capacity for wireless providers to improve existing service and expand to new areas. This bill aims to motivate industry and federal agencies to find better ways to utilize spectrum, and avoid a spectrum crunch, helping better prepare us to deploy 5G.” – Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH)


“[The AIRWAVES Act] is a bill that gets that life blood of spectrum available and in that industry pipeline to continue this great innovation and great progress.” – Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)


“[The] AIRWAVES Act is going to … get us to those spectrum auctions because you have to have that access.” – Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN)

The AIRWAVES Act Will Bring Connectivity to Rural America.

Policymakers also spoke about how the AIRWAVES Act’s rural dividend provision will help bridge the digital divide and connect more rural communities across our country.


“The AIRWAVES Act makes meaningful investments in rural broadband infrastructure… helping us to strengthen local economies and provide our businesses and hard-working Americans in rural areas with the resources they need to get ahead and stay ahead.” – Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH)


“Ten percent of the proceeds out of the AIRWAVES Act will be applied to underserved areas. And if you add up the amount of money that we’ve seen from [the two] previous auctions, this could be $6 billion that had gone toward rural broadband deployment and development.” – Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

Passing the AIRWAVES Act will Unleash Needed 5G Spectrum.

At the Race to 5G Summit, we heard from senior industry executives about the need for more spectrum and from forward-looking policymakers about their efforts to make more spectrum available. We need to work together to take these efforts across the finish line and ensure America’s global wireless leadership. And that starts with the swift passage of the AIRWAVES Act.

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