Carriers, Telecoms Tell DoD Nationalized 5G Network is “Wrong Approach”

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UPDATE Carriers and related telecom companies told the Department of Defense in no uncertain terms they oppose any attempt to create a nationalized 5G network. Replies to the DoD’s recent request for information were due Monday.

CTIA told DoD it appreciates collaborative efforts to work together on solutions to support military 5G needs. However, the “RFI’s focus on a DoD-managed spectrum sharing arrangement between the military and the private sector, or a lease by DoD of National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)-assigned spectrum to commercial entities, is the wrong approach.”

The U.S leads the world in wireless, according to CTIA, largely due to a spectrum assignment framework focused on clearing spectrum resources, auctioning exclusive-use spectrum licenses, and enabling wireless service providers to invest and innovate in a robustly competitive wireless market. The system puts spectrum to its most efficient and best use, says CTIA.  

The RFI contemplates “a dramatic departure” from this approach, with DoD inserting itself into this thriving commercial sector, notes CTIA. “This would be a mistake,” that would “undercut the market-driven spectrum assignment framework and undermine the investment and innovation at the heart of the American wireless ecosystem.” CTIA asked DoD to reject “experimental spectrum-sharing schemes.”

Instead, CTIA says members would welcome the chance to explore ways to repurpose additional government spectrum for exclusive-use, flexible-rights wireless licenses and to provide DoD with the 5G capabilities at the heart of the RFI.

The Telecommunications Industry Association took the DoD RFI to mean discussing how the military can use 5G networks in their facilities and what spectrum bands can be made available for sharing. The TIA did not interpret the RFI as a call for comment on a public-run DoD nationwide 5G network, which it would oppose.

TIA represents manufacturers and vendors of information and communications technology (ICT) equipment and services that are supplied to the owners and operators of communications networks. “The ICT industry has invested billions of dollars in order to create national, commercial 5G networks. TIA does not support undercutting this massive investment by introducing a government-owned public network that would essentially give away spectrum for free.”

TIA agrees with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, 19 bipartisan Senators, and bipartisan House Commerce Committee leaders, who oppose any effort by the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network. Instead, lawmakers and TIA urged the Department instead to focus on investing in existing options to bring next-generation networks to their facilities.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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