Even in a Crisis, 5G Deployment is Underway | Citizens Against Government Waste

Even in a Crisis, 5G Deployment is Underway

The WasteWatcher

Congress and the White House are not the only places in the nation’s capital where action is being taken to respond to the coronavirus.  Federal agencies are also working to help various segments of the economy, and few are working harder than the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has taken steps to make certain Americans have access to broadband to support online learning, telehealth, and telecommuting activities across the country through its Keep Americans Connected initiative.

But, other initiatives, like 5G deployment, have been delayed both in the U.S. and around the globe in countries like Austria, France, Portugal, and Spain.  Spectrum auctions have been postponed, including the 3.5 GHz spectrum band.

Other auctions have been completed or will be moving forward on scheduled.  The FCC just completed the millimeter wave spectrum band auction, which is critical to implementing 5G deployment in urban and more densely situated markets.  This auction netted $4.47 billion in revenue for taxpayers.  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the December 8, 2020 spectrum of the c-band spectrum would go forward as planned.

The final closure of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger on April 3 will improve 5G deployment, particularly in rural areas of the country.  The new company has promised to use its combined spectrum resources to advance 5G networks in 99 percent of the country over the next six years.  This will be in addition to the innovative use of millimeter wave spectrum by AT&T and Verizon to help Americans stay connected, even during situations like our current crisis.

While Chairman Pai has done a great deal to promote the FCC’s 5G-FAST plan, there is still a deficiency in spectrum, particularly the mid-band spectrum range needed to make sure further 5G network deployment can take place.  The 5G FAST plan proposes to make spectrum available for 5G deployment in the 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz, and the 3.7-4.2 GHz bands.  However, there are questions about whether this spectrum will be sufficient to meet the nation’s 5G mid-band needs. Mid-band spectrum ranges from the 1 GHz to 6 GHz bands, with portions already set aside for licensed and unlicensed uses, both of which are critical to implementing the full benefits of 5G networks.  The FCC should continue to evaluate how more mid-band spectrum can be optimized for 5G.

Adding more mid-band spectrum for 5G deployment will help boost the economy, currently suffering from stay at home orders, and other ramifications from the pandemic.  As more Americans have made the shift to telework, broadband internet providers in the U.S. have been able to manage network traffic well (unlike many European countries).  The deployment of more 5G networks will enhance this ability for the foreseeable future.

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