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D.C. Reacts to FCC C-Band Vote

Commission will free up, auction midband spectrum for 5G

Stakeholders weighed in Feb. 28 after the FCC voted to proceed with a public auction of C-Band spectrum for 5G, an item that had prompted heated debate from the Hill and elsewhere.

“The U.S. must win the race to 5G,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Communications Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) in a joint statement. “It’s simple: either we lead the way, bring along other like-minded countries, and write the rules on advanced technologies, or we have them dictated to us by China. We know that only the first option will be written with free-market principles in mind. I’m encouraged chairman Pai and the FCC share this mindset and I commend their progress on the C-Band auction order.”

“ACA Connects praises chairman Pai and the FCC on the adoption of an order today that strikes an appropriate balance between clearing a large portion of the C-Band for 5G use and protecting incumbent users of the spectrum,” said ACA President Matthew Polka. “This proceeding turned out to be one of the most challenging undertakings of any FCC chairman’s tenure, and Chairman Pai and his team proved once again they know how to get things done.”

[Read: FCC Preps Big Spectrum Moves]

The C-Band is used by satellite companies to deliver programming to broadcasters and cable operators, so the FCC is having to free up 280 MHz of the lower portion of the band, move incumbents to the upper part, and make sure that new wireless broadband users of the freed-up spectrum don’t interfere with those incumbents.

“Today’s vote is another major step toward unleashing mid-band spectrum for 5G,” said AT&T EVP Joan Marsh. “Making the C-Band available for mobile flexible use will provide a vital resource for deploying next generation wireless networks and securing U.S. 5G leadership. We look forward to reading the details of the item and continuing to work with the commission to ensure a successful auction and effective transition.”

“The FCC’s vote today is a great success for the future of 5G in America. We cannot afford to wait any longer to roll out 5G nationwide in America and the approval of a public auction of the spectrum is a great step to unleashing American innovation,” said 5G Action Chairman Mike Rogers. “China has a head start on cornering 5G, but with this vote we are one step closer to ensuring we don’t lose the race. Getting 5G right is critical to our country’s long term economic and national security and I applaud the FCC’s and Chairman Pai’s actions today.”

“While surely there will be much quibbling about various facets of the FCC’s decision, to my mind, Chairman Pai and his Republican colleagues deserve much credit for proposing a sound way forward,” said Free State Foundation President Randolph May. “Absent the willingness to consider somewhat novel approaches to address the need to repurpose this midband spectrum sooner rather than later, I suspect we’d still be stuck in neutral — and in today’s technologically dynamic and competitive marketplace environment, being stuck in neutral doesn’t advance overall consumer welfare or the national interest.”

“I applaud the commission for voting in favor of the C-Band auction rules,” said Competitive Carriers Association President Steven K. Berry. “C-Band spectrum provides incredible potential for all carriers — both large and small — to deploy next-generation technologies, and a public auction of this invaluable resource is certainly the right decision. An auction of 280 megahertz will go a long way to helping meet consumers’ insatiable demand for more. While we would have liked to have seen a limit on spectrum aggregation to further promote competition, we commend the commission for its work on this enormously complex issue and look forward to a robust auction in the near future.”