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Spectrum Policy .

Wireless technologies depend on spectrum, the airwaves that enable us to communicate anywhere, anytime. CTIA supports policies that provide the wireless industry with more spectrum to support our connected future.

Spectrum Policy


Mobile data continues to grow, wireless providers are launching 5G, and the Internet of Things will transform communities and industries across the economy. More spectrum will help meet consumer demand, benefit our economy, and unleash the full potential of the Internet of Things and 5G networks.

The Need for More Spectrum

Spectrum forms the core of mobile networks. Today’s 4G networks were built using low-band spectrum, which travels for miles providing coverage across the country.

Low-band spectrum will continue to be an important foundation for wireless networks, but next-generation 5G networks will also use mid- and high-band spectrum. These airwaves offer greater capacity but travel shorter distances than low-band spectrum.

The need for more spectrum is driven by:

  • Mobile Data. Demand for mobile data continues to surge. In 2017, wireless traffic totaled 15.69 trillion megabytes – the equivalent of nearly 250 million people simultaneously binge-watching every episode of Game of Thrones in HD.
  • 5G. 5G will connect 100x more devices, offer up to 100x faster speeds, and be 5x more responsive than 4G. These next-gen networks will transform businesses and the consumer experience and drive more data use. In addition, other nations have recognized the need for more spectrum to fuel their 5G networks, increasing pressure on the U.S. to act quickly to deploy more spectrum to continue our global wireless leadership.
  • Internet of Things/Smart Cities. Communities across the U.S. and every economic sector have begun using the power of wireless connectivity. This innovation will spur over 650 million wireless connections to come online by 2020.

Policy Positions

Auction Revenue

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FCC FY2019 Budget Estimates to Congress (Feb. 2018)

Auction Revenue

Since 1994, the U.S. government has raised over $100 billion in revenue from wireless companies participating in FCC spectrum auctions.

FCC FY2019 Budget Estimates to Congress (Feb. 2018)

To meet consumer demand and lead the world in 5G innovation, wireless networks need more capabilities and capacity. That means hundreds of megahertz of new spectrum, with an emphasis on making more mid-band available to help reverse the U.S.’s mid-band deficit.

Spectrum is a finite resource. Roughly 60% of spectrum bands are under government control, and freeing up new spectrum can take over a decade. Policymakers have recently taken steps to unlock key spectrum opportunities, but that work needs to be accelerated to deliver a dedicated spectrum pipeline in the near-term.

The pipeline should include a mix of low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum, particularly on licensed, exclusive use spectrum—the foundation of today’s wireless networks.

Learn more about CTIA’s comprehensive National Spectrum Strategy

Spectrum Channel

All you need to know about Spectrum in one place.

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