What is the Spectrum Pipeline?


Spectrum is an integral part of our daily lives. Every time you make a call on your cellphone, check a status on an app or stream a video, devices run on invisible waves that send and receive the data instantly. The only catch with spectrum is that there is a finite amount.

Let’s go back to 2008. Just a couple of months before the Beijing Olympics came one of the biggest wireless innovations of the decade—the iPhone 3G was released to the public. In comparison to our devices today, the older model was chunkier, rounder, and slower, running on (fast at the time) 3G waves. Fast forward to today however, we experience unmatched speeds and lower latency thanks to the innovation and competition of 5G technology. Evolving from basic webforms transmitted via 3G data to now live-streaming video on 5G data, we’ve seen leaps and bounds in wireless innovation over a short period of time.

We Need a Spectrum Pipeline
Wireless data runs on licensed spectrum. And to keep up with the curve for data and devices, which we have seen drastically increase even since 2008, more licensed spectrum is needed. After this summer’s 2.5 GHz auction, however, the spectrum pipeline runs dry.

More spectrum allows us to receive data more quickly and efficiently, and receive more of it. Think of a road that has a traffic jam, by adding more lanes (spectrum) we’re increasing the ability for data to arrive faster.

That’s why is crucial for Congress to act and create a pipeline of spectrum that can support wireless demand. Specifically, Congress should look at 3.1-3.45 GHz and the 4.4-4.94 GHz bands for opportunities for contiguous licensed spectrum blocks.

In addition to speed, more spectrum will allow us to experience larger 5G networks that will accommodate the changing needs of increased amounts of data. Building out a pipeline of spectrum in large, contiguous blocks allows for increased bandwidth and network efficiencies, enhancing wireless experiences and lowering costs.

Lowering costs? Yup. Countries around the world are planning to use the 3.1-3.45 GHz and 4.4-4.9 GHz blocks for wireless. By requiring an auction of these blocks, Congress can help ensure networks across the globe are standardized, thereby reducing deployment costs as well as device and service costs.

The key to achieving this is to create a pipeline of low, mid, and high-band spectrum.

What You Can Do
Congress is currently working on the Spectrum Innovation Act and the Extending America’s Spectrum Auction Leadership Act of 2022, both of which have elements that can be helpful to increasing access to licensed spectrum to support wireless use. You can get involved by contacting your federal representatives to relay the urgency of freeing up mid-band spectrum for innovation, competition, and faster 5G speeds.

Sign the petition

14 years have passed since the release of the iPhone 3G to the public, and the spirit of innovation has yet to wane. It is important that we voice our support for policies that will shift the playing field for innovators, competitors, and the next business leaders.

For more information on how your 5G powered device and spectrum work together, read our blog on Spectrum 101. Hop on our wavelength and stay tuned to ACTwireless to discover more wireless updates, tips, technology, and policy updates.