Committee Leaders Urge FCC to Speed Deployment of 5G Spectrum

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Senators Roger Wicker, (R-MS), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and John Thune, (R-SD), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, urged FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to redouble the agency’s efforts to make mid-band spectrum available for 5G. The committee exercises jurisdiction over the FCC.

“The FCC has streamlined deployment and moved prudently but with great speed to bring millimeter wave spectrum to the market, completing successful auctions for spectrum in the 24 GHz and 28 GHz bands, and preparing for auctions in the 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands,” Wicker and Thune note in a letter to Pai.

Mid-band spectrum offers favorable signal range and indoor penetration combined with increased capacity that comes from frequency reuse; this makes mid-band spectrum particularly important for the initial deployment of 5G, according to the lawmakers. This is especially the case in America’s rural areas, where population density makes deployment of millimeter wave spectrum less economical than in urban areas.

“But currently, the United States lags far behind our competitors in the availability of mid-band spectrum for 5G. While Citizens Band Radio Service will make 70 MHz of licensed spectrum available under a novel licensing scheme, much more is needed,” they emphasized.

The FCC has started evaluating commercial wireless use of spectrum in the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz band. However, “the need for action has become even more acute. It has been estimated that accelerating infrastructure deployment by one year could drive an additional $100 billion in economic impact in the next three years. Therefore, we urge the Commission to act quickly to make spectrum in the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz band available for 5G,” state Wicker and Thune.

May 14, 2019

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