Advanced Television

Major risk of US falling behind in 5G race

February 1, 2019

Members of the C-Band Alliance (CBA), which is looking to see 200 MHz of C-band capacity reassigned over the US for 5G adoption, have met with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and Erin McGrath, legal advisor to Commissioner O’Rielly.

It seems that the presentation to Commissioner O’Rielly was polite, but blunt, and covered the “real and present danger of the US falling behind China and other countries in the race to 5G and why mid-band spectrum is essential to bringing the benefits of the 5G revolution to Americans who do not live in our biggest cities.”

The CBA team explained that there simply is no practical alternative to its proposal to get mid-band spectrum into the hands of US wireless providers quickly, efficiently, and voluntarily.

The CBA stated that every current customer will continue to be served in the C-band and that 200 MHz is the maximum amount of spectrum that can be cleared without denying C-Band service to some current customers. SES and Intelsat emphasised that they will cover all reasonable costs of the transition for every impacted entity — their customers and their customers’ customers, including local broadcast stations and cable systems.

The CBA discussed with Commissioner O’Rielly the proposed auction process, and the Alliance’s plan to buy up to 8 new satellites as well as funding “potentially 100,000 satellite dish filters” to ensure the schemes success.

However,  O’Rielly stated some parties opposed the plan. The CBA countered saying that some objections were made in order to delay US 5G deployment to maintain their own competitive advantage.

The CBA asserted that the cable industry would like to continue their high-speed broadband monopoly as long as possible. Presently most Americans are served by a single high-speed broadband provider – the local cable company; armed with mid-band spectrum, wireless providers will be able to offer consumers a choice of wireless broadband service potentially faster and cheaper than cable. The CBA also noted that a merged Sprint/T-Mobile combination would be the only national carrier with sufficient mid-band spectrum for 5G deployment — a huge competitive advantage that the merged company would prefer to extend for years by delaying other wireless providers from getting access to mid-band spectrum.

In a statement, the CBA said it had reiterated that the United States is in a serious competition with China to deploy 5G, “a race with major economic and national security implications for our country. Mid-band spectrum is essential to extend 5G beyond America’s largest cities, and the CBA proposal provides the only practical way to get mid-band spectrum into the marketplace quickly and efficiently. Finally, the CBA urged the Commission to adopt expeditiously the CBA proposal so the US can remain competitive in the race to 5G.”

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