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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.

Spectrum Policy


Mobile data continues to grow, 5G is around the corner, and the Internet of Things will transform communities and industries across the economy. More spectrum will help meet consumer demand and unleash the full potential of the Internet of Things and tomorrow’s 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 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.
  • 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 600 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 make 5G and the Internet of Things a reality, wireless networks need more capabilities and capacity. That means hundreds of MHz of new low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum.

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 can help by acting now to create a dedicated pipeline of new commercial spectrum.

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

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