Unfortunate Implications of Expired Spectrum Authority


It’s been more than a year since the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) spectrum auction authority expired. This lapse, unprecedented from the start, continues to jeopardize American’s broadband access and further widen the digital divide.

Consider the smart alarm clock that buzzes you awake in the morning, the wearable devices that track your movement, the thermostat or home security system you adjust and unlock from your hand, or even recent healthcare innovations that minimize invasive procedures and saves lives. Invisible spectrum radio waves benefit our daily lives.

For 30 years, the FCC has had the authority to auction spectrum, the invaluable resource used among wireless network providers that power our connections. Without renewed authority to auction, allocate, and license additional spectrum, the United States yields 5G leadership to international adversaries, risking our national and economic security.

It is not enough to simply reauthorize the auction authority. The FCC must be given something to auction. That’s why additional licensed spectrum coupled with auction authority reauthorization is so crucial. Filling a spectrum pipeline supports current increased demand for wireless and the array of new wirelessly connected devices we expect in the future. The promise of a spectrum pathway supports future innovation, which in turn spurs investment. With increased investment, our community is strengthened, we have stronger digital connections, and we can remain competitive with the rest of the world.

Competition globally is just as important as competition within the United States. In fact, the emergence of 5G home, also known as 5G fixed wireless access, is giving Americans a real choice in broadband service. Installation can take just minutes and the cost can be as much as 50 percent cheaper than lower-tier cable plans over multiple years, according to a study from Econ One. Unlocking this more affordable, cost-effective alternative to traditional broadband services is propelling Americans into the future and successfully narrowing the digital divide. Releasing more licensed spectrum will supercharge competition by powering 5G home, and ultimately, unleash greater benefits across the country.

Spectrum holds our wireless ecosystem together. It enables the technology we depend on now and pioneers new advances like 5G home and the Internet of Things (IoT). The growing network demands, paired with the onset of an increasingly connected world, only reinforces the need for swift congressional action. Despite bipartisan interest, leaders in Congress are stalling thanks to political charades. It’s time lawmakers step up to the plate and make the FCC’s spectrum reauthorization and a pipeline of mid-band licensed spectrum a priority.