The Future of Wireless Connectivity: Will the Supply of Spectrum Meet the Demand?


Spectrum refers to the range of frequencies that are used to transmit wireless signals. These frequencies range from very low (such as those used for AM radio) to very high (such as those used for satellite communication).

Now, you may be wondering why spectrum is so important. Well, the answer is simple: we need it for all our wireless devices to work! The wireless devices we use every day, such as your phone and tablet, are crucial to how we work, receive education, connect with doctors, and even watch movies. They all rely on spectrum to transmit and receive signals.

However, there is a problem. As more and more people use wireless devices, the demand for the spectrum increases. This means that there is only a limited amount of spectrum available, and it can get crowded quickly.

This is where things get complicated. Companies that provide wireless services (such as cell phone providers) need access to spectrum to keep up with the demand for their services. But since there is only a limited amount of spectrum available, they need to compete for it and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to be able to auction it.

At this time, the US does not have enough spectrum available AND there is not a plan in place for future spectrum allocation.

For the first time in 30 years, Congress has allowed the FCC’s authority to auction spectrum to expire. To make matters worse, many countries, like China, have taken action to address increased spectrum demand, which is a threat to our economic and national security.

Specifically, we are talking about full-power, licensed mid-band spectrum. What does that mean?

Let’s break that down:

  • The spectrum is like a highway for wireless signals. Different parts of the spectrum are used for different things.
  • Full-power means that the signals are strong and can travel long distances.
  • Licensed means that the government gives permission to specific companies to use this part of the spectrum which means greater reliability and better performance for consumers.
  • Mid-band means that this part of the spectrum is in the middle range of frequencies. It’s not too high or too low. It’s the current sweet spot for 5G and the future of innovation.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to be able to auction spectrum because it’s a way for the government to make sure the spectrum is used in the best way possible.

Here’s why:

  • The government owns the spectrum, and it’s a valuable resource. By auctioning it off, the government can make sure that the companies that use it are willing to pay a fair price for it. This helps make sure that the spectrum is used in the most efficient way possible.
  • The FCC can also set conditions for how the spectrum is used. For example, they can require that the companies using the spectrum provide service to certain areas or to certain types of customers. This helps make sure that the spectrum is used to benefit as many people as possible.
  • Finally, the money that the government makes from auctioning spectrum can be used for things like improving infrastructure, expanding broadband access, and funding public safety initiatives.

Policymakers must take action to make more mid-band spectrum available that will drive innovation and enable the development of cutting-edge technology, while also providing us with faster mobile service with increased coverage. Additionally, creating a future pipeline for licensed spectrum auctions is crucial to meeting increasing demand.

Read more about the high stakes of 5G technology and the importance of making additional licensed, exclusive use, mid-band spectrum available.