Several House and Senate Republicans introduced the bicameral Beat China By Harnessing Important, National Airwaves for 5G Act of 2020, or the Beat CHINA for 5G Act of 2020. They are: Senate Commerce Committee Chair Roger Wicker, (R-MS); Chair of the Senate Communications and Technology Subcommittee John Thune, (R-SD); House Commerce Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden, R-OR; House Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Brett Guthrie, (R-KY); and Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH). The Competitive Carriers Association applauded the move.
The bill would empower the FCC to open more critical mid-band spectrum for non-federal, commercial wireless use by requiring the agency to begin an auction of the 3.45-3.55 GHz band by December 2021.
In February 2018, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) identified the 3.45-3.55 GHz band as a candidate for potential repurposing. Earlier this year, NTIA released a technical report indicating that spectrum sharing opportunities were possible in this band, Inside Towers reported.
In August 2020, the White House announced it would make 100 MHz of mid-band spectrum in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band available for non-federal, commercial wireless use. In September 2020, the FCC took a first step to start transitioning existing services to make this band available for 5G use.
The lawmakers say the actions are crucial to growing the economy and enhancing national security. This legislation is the final step to making sure the auction stays on track.
In response to the introduction, CCA President/CEO Steve Berry stated: “Mid-band spectrum is crucial for deploying 5G services, particularly in rural America. I thank Congressmen Walden, Latta, and Guthrie and Senators Wicker and Thune for their work to highlight the need to bring the 3.45 – 3.55 GHz band to auction, building upon NTIA’s work to identify spectrum that can be reallocated to meet American consumers’ insatiable demands for wireless services.”
The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, too, supports the move. WISPA VP Government Affairs Christina Mason said the bill instructs the FCC to auction that underutilized spectrum. “To fully unleash the potential of this band, we would urge that the FCC allow meaningful access by small innovators to any such auction system. The just completed CBRS auction provides a tremendous model for that endeavor which is, in pertinent part, based on smaller county-sized licenses.”
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