The Beatles may have given us the best advice to bringing more mid-band spectrum to deploy 5G services in their chart-topping song, “We Can Work It Out.” With enhanced focus on deploying next-generation technologies as soon as possible, it is absolutely critical for policymakers to find ways to free-up as much spectrum as possible for commercial use – not only to benefit customers, but also the U.S. economy. Mid-band spectrum will play an important role in the nation’s rollout of 5G, and the C-band (3.7 – 4.2 GHz) represents a critical opportunity for providers to unleash next-generation technologies.
Mid-band spectrum is critical to satiate consumers’ increasing data appetite, and now is a prime opportunity for the expert agency, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), to advance 5G services to all Americans and rev-up infrastructure investment in the telecom world. Four international-based satellite companies (the C-Band Alliance, “CBA”) have conceded that they are now ready to cash-in on their inefficiencies – by selling their spectrum licenses for billions of dollars. Not so fast!
There is a more commonsense approach, the 5G Plus Plan, recently introduced by Competitive Carriers Association (“CCA”), Charter and ACA Connects, that would unleash much-needed mid-band spectrum for 5G, resulting in a win-win-win for consumers, rural America, incumbent users of the C-band, the satellite industry and future wireless services.
The joint proposal best serves the U.S. public interest and consumers by making all of the reallocated C-band spectrum available at the same time in a single FCC-led auction, rather than allowing just a few companies to make bank on the sale of their licenses. Cornerstone principles of the “middle-ground “proposal include:
- Freeing-up 370 MHz of mid-band spectrum, almost double the amount of spectrum as the CBA plan, to be reallocated for terrestrial use. Anything less is a lost opportunity.
- Clearing the spectrum as fast or faster than the CBA plan in most areas.
- Awarding the spectrum through an FCC-led auction open to all bidders.
- Net proceeds from the auction deposited in the U.S. Treasury or used as directed by Congress, a taxpayer dividend!
- Equal amounts of spectrum cleared in urban and rural areas and, to the extent possible, treated the same.
- C-Band customers and earth station users made whole and given long term certainty through funding and reimbursement of certain costs.
- Fully functional 5G spectrum that will have 100% geographical availability after reallocation.
- Spectrum aggregation limits and licensing rules to encourage auction participation and interoperability.
This is a commonsense approach to reimburse all impacted parties, utilize the spectrum ASAP, and benefit the U.S. Treasury and American taxpayers. Now is the time for the FCC to act and let the mid-band spectrum be used to its fullest potential. Let’s “come together, right now,” over 5G.
So, faced with a choice of a one-sided plan that benefits only the satellite operators, or a more comprehensive proposal that benefits many– which plan should the FCC support? The 5G Plus Plan offers a sensible solution, and as The Beatles so aptly put it – Try to see it my way…While you see it your way, Run the risk of knowing that our “opportunity” may soon be gone. We Can Work It Out!
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