Pai Says His FCC Is Tops in Freeing up Spectrum

FCC chairman Ajit Pai
(Image credit: FCC)

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that his FCC has been the "most aggressive and successful" at freeing up spectrum of any FCC in history.

Pai was speaking, remotely, to the Mexico 5G Conference Wednesday (Nov. 25).

Pai said the FCC has been executing on all phases of his 5G FAST Plan — "1) freeing up spectrum for the private sector, 2) promoting wireless infrastructure, and 3) modernizing our regulations to encourage deployment of fiber, which is needed to carry wireless data into the core of the network."

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He pointed out that the best is yet to come, and soon. that is the FCC's biggest-ever auction of midband spectrum, the sweet spot for 5G, starting Dec. 8. That's the 280 MHz of C-band spectrum the FCC is auctioning.

Pai put in a plug for harmonizing spectrum using across borders, which he called the "gold standard." He said the FCC and its regional partners, including Mexico, have done better than any other in identifying harmonization opportunities. "Our close bilateral relationships enabled us to work through the issues and include in our cross-border agreements the kind of flexibility that is critical to spectrum harmonization."

Pai said that while some see Wi-Fi and cellular spectrum as rivals--the first is wired broadband's big mobile play the other is wireless mobile--the chairman said he sees Wi-Fi as a boon to wireless 5G, citing Cisco projections that by 2022 almost 60% of mobile data will be offloaded to Wi-Fi.

Pai put in a pitch for closing ranks when it comes to keeping suspect tech out of 5G networks. "When it comes to 5G, we cannot afford to make risky choices and just hope for the best. We must see clearly the threats to the security of our networks and act to address them," he said. "And the more that the nations represented at this conference can work together and make security decisions based on shared principles, the safer that our 5G networks will be." 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.