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5G Action Launches C-Band Ad Campaign

FCC chair Ajit Pai is one of the stars of a new paid ad campaign pushing the FCC to free up C-Band spectrum for 5G ASAP. 

The aptly named 5G Action Now says it has launched a "targeted digital" ad campaign featuring Pai, President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Bog Barr all talking about the danger of China winning the race to 5G. 

The campaign follows Pai's announcement last week of a late 2020 auction of C-Band midband spectrum. He plans a vote on the plan at the FCC's Feb. 28 meeting.

The FCC is auctioning 280 MHz of the band, with satellite carrier incumbents receiving incentive payments from the auction if they agree to exit the spectrum early. 

Pai last week defended the potentially $9 billion plus payments, which some on Capitol Hill criticized as too much for "foreign satellite companies" and not enough for the U.S. Treasury. “I don’t favor accelerated relocation payments because they are in the private interest of satellite companies,” Pai said. “I favor accelerated relocation payments because they are in the public interest.” 

The ads, a mix of 30- and 60-second spots, will run in Washington, D.C., for the next several weeks, according to the group. 

"[N]ow is not the time to take the foot off the gas," said 5G Action Now spokesperson Ian Prior. "5G Action Now will continue to support the Trump Administration and chairman Pai to ensure that the United States is the global leader in 5G technology." 

5G Action is headed by Mike Rogers, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. 

"[T]here is hope that the Federal Communications Commission will auction off more of this vital [midband] spectrum by December 2020," said Lynnette Luna, principal technology analyst at GlobalData, of the need for speed, both in service offerings and getting spectrum to market. "Now the race is on for US carriers to deploy a more comprehensive 5G network. All nationwide US carriers have made 5G deployments but only using the spectrum they have available, which has led to limitations in coverage and speed for many carriers."

Gary Arlen contributed to this story.