Complaining the Department of Defense is not cooperating with the FCC’s efforts to secure mid-band spectrum, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly asked President Donald Trump to intercede in obtaining additional mid-band spectrum for mobile broadband.
“The Department of Defense, which is the largest holder of the most ideal mid-band spectrum, is exceptionally reluctant to part with one single megahertz. Simply put, every excuse, delay tactic, and political chit is used to prevent the repurposing of any spectrum,” O’Rielly said in a letter.
Even though the FCC has reallocated spectrum at 3.5 GHz and in the C-band, U.S. carriers will need upwards of 350 megahertz of mid-band spectrum over the next few years to deliver the promise of high-capacity, low-latency 5G, and eventually 6G, services, according to O’Rielly.
“Yet, the pipeline [of spectrum] is nearly empty, and our wireless providers lack sufficient mid-band spectrum to meet the exponential growth enabled by 5G networks and expected by users,” O’Rielly wrote.
“I believe that only you personally, with your unique ability to cut through the bureaucratic stonewalling, can free the necessary spectrum bands to provide our wireless providers the means to succeed.”
The only potential source for additional swaths of mid-band spectrum can be found within the allocations held by U.S. federal agencies, and, luckily, federal users have been proven to be able to reduce their spectrum holdings without jeopardizing their missions, according to O’Rielly. Unfortunately, the reallocation process takes too long.
“Even when there has been agreement to reallocate a federal band for commercial use, it takes multiple years to actually clear it and permit wireless providers to use it,” O’Rielly wrote. “The U.S. does not have the luxury of waiting years to provide spectrum for 5G services, especially when competitors such as China can move expeditiously to reassign spectrum frequencies by leveraging all the resources and power of their centralized, Communist regime.”