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FCC 5G Vote Draws Crowd of Admirers

The FCC's vote to free up spectrum for 5G and come up with a flexible regulatory framework for new services drew a crowd of approving commenters Thursday following its approval at the FCC's open meeting.                                                      

“Today’s vote by the FCC to make high band spectrum available for 5G was a clear victory for Americans’ mobile-first lives," said CTIA president Meredith Attwell Baker. "America is the world’s 4G LTE leader and, in the race to 5G, we are positioned well with this spectrum to fuel the next generation of networks, devices and apps. We applaud the FCC Chairman and Commissioners for taking this important step of making more spectrum available for Americans.”

“The FCC's decision today to make thousands of megahertz of high frequency spectrum available will be a critical building block in our country’s 5G future. The decision to make this spectrum available for commercial use right now will help ensure that the U.S. maintains its leadership position in wireless communications," said Verizon executive VP and general counsel Craig Silliman. "5G has the potential to completely transform the connectivity marketplace. 5G will be exponentially faster and better than current wireless broadband.  It will lead to more consumer choice for home broadband and connect many more devices to accommodate the explosion of the Internet of Everything.  Verizon is looking forward to continuing to lead the way to this future by deploying commercial 5G service next year and unleashing the benefits of this high frequency spectrum.”

Even before the vote, the bipartisan leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee were weighing in, in essence urging the FCC to do what it did in a letter to Wheeler.

They urged the FCC to adopt rules "that will enable rapid investment and innovation in these [higher frequency] bands. In the U.S. these bands will pave the way for investment and innovation in both licensed and unlicensed offerings, providing consumers with much faster and more responsive broadband, and delivering connectivity to many more devices including in the developing Internet of Things market.” 

They also urged the FCC to take steps to improve the siting process in order for 5G to be a success, writing, “5G will involve more densified wireless networks, with smaller antennas that have a more limited physical presence and lesser impact....The FCC, therefore, should promptly complete its nationwide programmatic agreement proceeding to eliminate unnecessary review processes for collecting small wireless antennas.”

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said during the meeting that that should be on the FCC's to-do list as well.

Public Knowledge was happy with the vote, particularly opening up spectrum for unlicensed.

“The Commission’s actions today are a substantial step forward in laying the groundwork for the next generation of wireless technologies. It is encouraging to see the Commission recognize that the same values which apply to our next-generation wireline networks -- universal access, competition, consumer protection, and public safety -- are equally relevant to the next generation of wireless platforms," said John Gasparini, policy fellow at Public Knowledge. "We applaud the FCC for including a spectrum aggregation limit to promote competition, a requirement for a cybersecurity plan to protect the public, and performance obligations designed to bring the benefits of 5G to all Americans.

“Critically, the FCC has allocated substantial spectrum to facilitate the growth of the unlicensed ecosystem as it continues to develop into an essential means of providing connectivity. It is disappointing, however, that the Commission failed to act more boldly on issues like spectrum sharing, license area sizes, and spectrum aggregation limits, all of which are critical parts of 21st century spectrum policy."

“In our increasingly connected world, opening up new swaths of spectrum for 5G networks is critical to support ever-growing consumer demand and increasing number of connected devices," said Jonathan Spalter, chair of Mobile Future. "With 5G expected to touch virtually every aspect of our economy and revolutionize how we communicate, we appreciate the FCC’s decision today to help pave the way for continued U.S. global leadership in wireless.  The Commission's actions are bold steps to ensure an ever-brighter mobile future for all Americans.”

“Today’s unanimous vote to approve the Spectrum Frontiers Order by the FCC is deeply encouraging, both on substance and in the hope that bipartisanship can continue to thrive as it has since 1996 in the telecom arena," said Ev Ehrlich, head of ESC Co. and former undersecretary of commerce for the Clinton Administration. "Mobile broadband has only just begun to transform society, as 5G networks will unleash a new frontier of connectivity, consumer and societal benefits, while making broadband even more competitive and dynamic. Today’s FCC vote will ensure the U.S. is positioned to win the global race to 5G and sends a message that the U.S. has no intention of relinquishing its innovation edge.  Now that the FCC has done its part to make 5G spectrum available, it’s time for state and local governments to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place to support a 5G future.”

“The FCC has gotten it right with Spectrum Frontiers, and the U.S. is now in a stronger position to innovate and accelerate towards 5G," said Scott Belcher, CEO of the Telecommunications Industry Association. "The FCC’s plan frees a significant amount of new spectrum for mobile use, and does so without attaching strings or taking a wait-and-see approach. In this way, Spectrum Frontiers provides both the fuel that will be demanded by next-generation networks, and the predictability that is needed by technology companies."