An additional 100 megahertz of contiguous, coast-to-coast mid-band radio-frequency (RF) spectrum will be made available for commercial 5G deployment in a step intended to strengthen U.S. leadership in 5G wireless communications, according to an announcement from the White House yesterday.
“Secure 5G networks will absolutely be a vital link to America’s prosperity and national security in the 21st century,” said President Donald Trump.
The action will give Americans access to the greatest 5G networks in the world, leading to cutting-edge innovation, economic prosperity, and strong national security, according to a statement from the White House. The spectrum sharing agreement will allow the American wireless industry to build and operate 5G networks nationwide using the 3.45-GHz to 3.55-GHz band. It was through collaboration with the Department of Defense, the statement reads, that the Administration worked carefully to ensure commercial use of what it called critically needed mid-band spectrum would not compromise military preparedness or national security.
The White House said the action builds on President Trump’s record of success in ensuring that the United States is the global leader in 5G readiness. In recounting that record, the White House statement said Trump and his administration have taken strong action to remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to the 5G infrastructure buildout, helping secure America’s place as the world’s leader in 5G readiness.
“The FCC has freed up more than 5,000 megahertz of spectrum for 5G — far more than any other country in the world — and has also taken action to streamline the permitting process for 5G infrastructure with state and local governments,” the statement reads. “President Trump’s historic tax cuts and deregulatory actions have created incentives for the wireless industry to invest in 5G technology, leading to millions of new American jobs. To ensure that our networks are secure, President Trump signed legislation to protect our nation’s 5G and wireless networks from untrusted companies and foreign adversaries.”
In a prepared statement, Kaleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said that with 5G networks already available to more than 250 million Americans, the United States already as made significant strides. She said the availability of more mid-band spectrum is a key factor to driving widespread 5G access across rural America.
“Throughout this process, the Trump Administration has worked carefully to ensure that commercial use of this critically needed mid-band spectrum will never compromise military preparedness or national security,” McEnany said. “5G wireless communications will be as much as 100 times faster than current 4G networks. It will transform the way our citizens work, learn, communicate and travel. It will make American farms more productive, American manufacturing more competitive, and American healthcare better and more accessible. 5G networks will create astonishing and thrilling new opportunities for all Americans.”
At the Department of Defense (DoD), Dana Deasy, the chief information officer, said that the spectrum sharing agreement resulted from a mid-April White House meeting with DoD officials to discuss what could be done quickly to make more mid-band spectrum available for 5G in the 3-GHz band. As a result, he said, the America’s Mid-Band Initiative Team (AMBIT) was established and worked on an unprecedented 15-week schedule to make 100 megahertz of contiguous mid-band spectrum available by the end of the summer.
“DoD established a working group that brought together 180 subject matter experts with ship, airborne, ground, electronic warfare, test and training expertise from Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and the office of the Secretary of Defense,” Deasy said, in a prepared statement. “The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy provided external subject matter experts who were embedded with the DoD team.”
The DoD saw these steps as necessary because the 3450-MHz to 3550-MHz band supports critical DoD radar operations including high-powered defense radar systems on fixed, mobile, shipborne and airborne platforms. Capabilities for these systems include air defense, missile and gunfire control, counter-mortar, bomb scoring, battlefield weapon locations, air traffic control and range safety.
Deasy said that AMBIT made use of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) work that demonstrated sharing feasibility that Congress directed in the MOBILE NOW Act. He said the FCC will auction the spectrum after service rules are adopted.
“Through the hard work of the AMBIT, we expect these rules to be similar to AWS-3, where for the most part the spectrum will be available for commercial use without limits, while simultaneously minimizing impact to DoD operations,” Deasy said.
The chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, said that the spectrum reallocation is a key milestone in securing United States leadership in 5G. He said the FCC looks forward to moving quickly to adopt service rules for the 3.45-GHz band and then holding an auction to bring the mid-band spectrum to market. “I commend the president and Department of Defense for today’s announcement that the 3.45-3.55 GHz band will be made available for commercial 5G deployment,” Pai said.
At CTIA, a membership organization that represents wireless communications carriers, its president and CEO, Meredith Attwell Baker, said, “Opening up this critical block of mid-band spectrum for full-power commercial operations will enhance U.S. competitiveness in the 5G ecosystem. We applaud the White House and Pentagon for finding ways to promote our nation’s leadership of the emerging 5G economy while safeguarding vital defense operations.”
Chris Pearson, the president of 5G Americas, said that mid-band spectrum is important for the deployment of 5G in the United States. “We are pleased that the White House has led the Department of Defense and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to support commercial access in the upper 100 megahertz of the 3.1-MHz to 3.55-GHz band, at full commercial power,” he said. 5G Americas is a membership organization composed of telecommunications service providers and manufacturers.
The president and CEO of WISPA, a membership organization composed of fixed wireless internet service providers, Claude Aiken, applauded the spectrum agreement. “Spectrum is finite, and it must be shared if Americans are to gain the full benefits of wireless broadband,” he said. “We want to thank all involved for working through the numerous complex technical arrangements to make available this valuable mid-band spectrum.” Aiken said the sharing will benefit Americans, keeping them safe on the home front, and providing more of the fuel providers and the industry need to bring broadband to what he called hungry consumers.