While there was disagreement on the current U.S. 5G spectrum position, FCC commissioners unanimously launched a proceeding to make mid-band spectrum in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band available for flexible use, primarily for 5G mobile use and point-to-multipoint use.
Comm. Jessica Rosenworcel was blunt in her assessment of the need for making mid-band spectrum available for 5G networks. She gave a laundry list of other countries that have acted on 5G mid-band spectrum, including South Korea, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and China.
“We’re behind. That’s the not-so-good news. Because the price we pay when we cede leadership is a loss in early scale and a voice in standards development and device specifications that can yield innovation and jobs we want to see here, on our shores,” she said in a statement read at the commission meeting last Thursday.
For that reason, she supported the FCC’s rulemaking and order to explore different mechanisms for clearing the 3.7-4.2 GHz band for 5G use. “And if we make headway here, we can start to reclaim lost leadership in spectrum that is critical for success in 5G networks,” she said.
Commissioner Carr was more upbeat, noting FCC efforts to up spectrum above 95 GHz, 4.9 GHz, the millimeter wave band, 2.5 GHz band and the 24 GHz band, as well as seeking comments on opening up the 26 GHz and 42 GHz bands.
“We have now freed up more spectrum than any other country in the world,” Carr said. “We’re more than 4 gigahertz ahead of second place China. But there’s still work to be done in the mid-band, where other countries have freed up substantial amounts of spectrum.”
Rosenworcel voiced reservations about one market-based proposal from satellite operators in the C Band. “This proposal is creative. But it also raises challenging questions that this agency must tackle to fulfill our statutory obligations,” Rosenworcel said. “We need to acknowledge that these frequencies are used right now by television and radio broadcasters and cable operators to deliver programming to more than 100 million American households.”
She also called on the FCC to move forward on making the 3.5 GHz band available for 5G, and to publish a spectrum auction schedule.