Spectrum Policy .
Wireless technologies depend on spectrum, the airwaves that enable us to communicate anywhere, anytime. CTIA champions the continued availability of sufficient licensed spectrum to support consumer usage and our connected future.
Mobile data continues to grow, wireless providers are building robust 5G networks, and the Internet of Things will transform communities and industries across the economy. More licensed spectrum will help meet consumer demand and unleash the full potential of the 5G Economy.
The Need for More Spectrum
Licensed spectrum forms the core of mobile networks. 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 5G networks 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 2019, wireless traffic totaled 37.06 trillion megabytes—equivalent to the population of Chicago watching all ten episodes of “The Last Dance” 1660 times each.
- 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 to offer more services and improve efficiencies. This innovation will spur use of over 43 billion connected devices by 2023.
Spectrum is a finite resource. Roughly 60% of spectrum bands are under government control, and freeing up new spectrum takes time.
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 licensed spectrum, with an emphasis on making more mid-band available to help reverse the U.S.’s mid-band deficit and realize 5G’s potential.
Auctioning spectrum provides operators with exclusive use rights, which helps ensure the quality of service we all rely on today. Auctioned, exclusive-use spectrum forms the core of today’s mobile broadband networks, providing clear protection from interference, enabling investment and high quality, reliable wireless service.
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.