U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today convened a hearing titled, “The Race to 5G: Exploring Spectrum Needs to Maintain U.S. Global Leadership.” The hearing examined the economic impact of 5G and the importance of American leadership to meet the growing consumer demand for reliable broadband services.
Thune’s MOBILE NOW Act, which will help boost the development of next-generation gigabit wireless broadband services, including 5G, by ensuring more spectrum is made available for commercial use and by reducing the red tape associated with building broadband networks, was signed into law in March 2018.
Excerpt from Thune’s Opening Remarks:
“The business cases for delivering 5G to New York and Chicago are much different than for Sioux Falls and Spearfish.
“If inadequacy of spectrum resources makes 5G less viable, it will be the rural areas that no longer make business sense.
“The Federal Communications Commission has concluded that next generation wireless networks will require efficient use of the low, mid, and high bands of spectrum.
“The FCC, acting in a bipartisan manner, has moved forward with bold proposals to make thousands of megahertz of high-band spectrum available for licensed and unlicensed, fixed and mobile use, and it has proceedings underway to make even more high-band spectrum available.
“And the broadcast incentive auction completed last year was an important contribution to much-needed low-band spectrum, although we must identify additional low-band spectrum for auction in the near future.
“With regard to mid-band spectrum, however, the United States is falling significantly behind.
“This is particularly troubling because mid-band spectrum is crucial to the initial deployment of 5G.
“Both the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the FCC have taken important steps in the last several months to make mid-band spectrum available.
“But the fact remains that only 150 megahertz of mid-band spectrum has been specifically identified for likely 5G use, and that is on a shared basis under a creative, but novel licensing scheme.
“This puts us far behind both China and South Korea in this regard and represents a serious threat to American leadership of next-generation technology.
“The FCC’s current proceeding on the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band is considering new approaches to get mid-band spectrum to market quickly, while protecting key satellite and related broadcast and cable operations in that band, including providers like Midco in South Dakota.”