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Opening 400 Megahertz Of Midband Spectrum For 5G Would Add USD 274 Billion To US Economy

As the U.S. Senate prepares for a hearing on 5G, CTIA has released new analysis which estimates that making another 400 megahertz of mid-band spectrum available for 5G services would add $274 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.3 million jobs over seven years.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s first hearing of the new session will be held tomorrow, and its subject is “winning the race to 5G.” CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker will be testifying, as will Steve Berry, president and CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association; Shailen Bhatt, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America; Kim Zentz, CEO of Urbanova; and Michael Wessel, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

The hearing will focus on “key steps to maintain U.S. global leadership in next-generation communications technology, spectrum needs to accelerate deployment, and new applications and services consumers can expect with 5G deployments. The hearing will also examine current efforts to modernize infrastructure siting policies and the security of 5G networks,” according to Senate information.

CTIA maintains that the U.S. lags in the availability of mid-band spectrum for 5G services. Although the engineering challenges of millimeter wave have often dominated the spectrum discussions around 5G, the industry organization notes that high-, mid-band and low-band spectrum will all be necessary in order to build ubiquitous, national 5G networks. And CTIA has commissioned research which shows that other countries are ahead of the U.S. in mid-band spectrum availability. An Analysys Mason report from 2018 which compiled the spectrum plans of a number of other countries found that China plans to release more than 500 megahertz of mid-band spectrum, while Japan expects to make more than 10 times more mid-band spectrum available than the U.S.’ current plans.

“Making more mid-band spectrum available will secure our long-term wireless leadership and boost our economy,” Attwell Baker said in a statement. “The FCC is already making great progress freeing up mid-band and we’re confident that under the leadership of Chairman Pai, we’ll can quickly close the close the gap.”

For the economic conclusions on the benefits of mid-band spectrum, Analysis Group modeled the investments wireless providers would need to make in order to deploy networks using 400 megahertz of mid-band spectrum between 3.45 GHz and 4.2 GHz over a seven-year period, the jobs created in the building of those networks, and the resulting economic benefits. The analyst firm noted that while it considered spectrum between 3 GHz to 24 GHz to be “mid-band,” its analysis specifically focused on “two bands that policymakers are considering for commercial wireless use (3.45-3.55 GHz and 3.7-4.2 GHz) and the 3.5 GHz band (3.55-3.7 GHz), which is in the process of being deployed.” Analysis Group concluded that mobile network operators would invest more than $150 billion on infrastructure in order to deploy 400 megahertz of mid-band spectrum, which would, in turn, add billions to gross domestic product and create both direct and “spillover” jobs.―RCR Wireless News

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