U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today issued the following statement after the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the 5G Spectrum Act, which he introduced in November with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Commerce Committee. Their bill would ensure mid-band spectrum is quickly made available in the market by requiring a transparent and competitive public auctioning process. The bill would require that at least 50 percent of the first $40 billion in auction revenue be reserved for the American people and that a portion of those proceeds be dedicated specifically for rural broadband build-out. The bill prescribes a tiered system with respect to auction revenue, requiring 90 percent of the top tier – any revenue above $50 billion – to be returned to the American people.
“I support this legislation for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that if we don’t win the race to 5G, we’re going to lose out on the economic benefit and dividend that comes with that,” said Thune. “China isn’t having this kind of discussion right now. They’re just clearing mid-band spectrum and allowing their companies to go after it. This is important to the future of this country that we get this right, and the only way we get it right is we’ve got to get more mid-band spectrum made available for commercial use … And I will take a backseat to no one – on this committee or in the Senate – when it comes to advocating for more technology to be delivered, services to be delivered to rural areas of this country, and I will continue to do that.”
The 5G Spectrum Act would:
- Bring spectrum to market that provides the coverage and capacity essential for deployment in America’s rural communities.
- Require the FCC to conduct a public auction of C band spectrum.
- Require the auction to start no later than December 31, 2020.
- Require the FCC to make available at least 280 MHz of spectrum.
- Require the FCC to capture for the taxpayer at least 50 percent of the fair market value of the spectrum.
- 10 percent of these proceeds would be specifically dedicated to rural broadband build-out, including a set-aside for tribal areas.