Today, the 116th Congress held its first hearing on winning the race to 5G. The topic is critical to the future of U.S. economic and national security. Whichever nation advances wireless connectivity enabled by 5G will lead industries, economies, and governments to new frontiers of productivity and innovation, and sustain decades of competitive advantage.
The discussion on the Hill appropriately assessed spectrum availability, government action to facilitate access to spectrum, and the security needs of future 5G networks.
Just yesterday, CTIA noted that making 400 MHz of mid-band spectrum available for commercial 5G networks will add $274 billion to the nation’s economy while creating 1.3 million new jobs. And at today’s hearing, the Competitive Carriers Association emphasized the unique benefits of mid-band spectrum, pointing out that it is “critically important that policymakers adopt policies that reallocate as much of this spectrum as possible to support 5G networks.” These are the reasons we need to push for an “all-of-the-above” spectrum strategy for terrestrial 5G here in the U.S. to maintain and expand American leadership in the global mobile economy.
Mid-band spectrum is a key piece in the 5G puzzle. The good news is that there is licensed, greenfield mid-band spectrum at 1.5-1.6 GHz in the lower mid-band that fits right into our national 5G spectrum strategy.
5G Ready Spectrum in the Mid-Band
Since December 2015, Ligado has had a proposal pending before federal regulators that would unlock 40 MHz of mid-band spectrum that the wireless industry universally agrees is critical to unlocking the potential of 5G and maintaining our country’s role as the world’s undisputed technology leader. With a green light from the government, we would begin deploying L-band spectrum right away to meet the current and future needs of American industries, leading to nearly $1 billion of private investment and thousands of new American jobs.
You cannot fight physics. We have licensed spectrum in the sweet spot of the lower mid-band. Our spectrum in the 1.5-1.6 GHz range enables a full mobile experience through a combination of coverage, capacity, and in-building penetration. These characteristics set it apart and make it complementary to higher mid-band spectrum, such as C-band and CBRS, that will deliver ultra-fast network speeds through wider channels, but the physics of higher mid-band create challenges on coverage and in-building penetration. And because lower mid-band and higher mid-band spectrum work together in next-generation networks, nations from Canada to China have prioritized making spectrum available in both categories. Most of those nations are already way ahead of ours.
It’s time to unleash the power of American innovation. Not next year. Not in six months. Today.