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New FCC 5G support could mean faster phones, rural broadband and more money for the US.

You keep hearing about 5G, but you may not know why?

It was on the news again on Monday. Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said he was in favor of an open auction of radio waves currently used by satellite companies (the so-called C-band spectrum) for new fifth-generation or 5G wireless networks that you've heard so much about.

Pai’s time almost coincided with the announcement of the bill by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) And Senator John Thune (R-SD), demanding that the FCC "hold an open auction of C-band spectrum." It is also proposed that the auction begin before December 31, 2020.


So what does that mean?

Well, according to chip maker Qualcomm, 5G "will raise the mobile network to not only connect people, but also connect and control machines, objects and devices. It will provide a new level of productivity and efficiency that will expand user capabilities and connect new industries." .

Or, as Verizon reports on its website: “It is expected to be one of the fastest wireless technologies ever created.”

But this is not only speed. Rural areas – currently underserved in the broadband market – can see new financing opportunities from the 5G public auction, as Pai recently noted.

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Expanding and accelerating broadband access is what everyone wants, not everyone wants to rush with these auctions, like satellite companies, because billions of dollars are at stake. They don’t own the “spectrum” that they just used over the past four decades or so, using it to “broadcast programs to 120 million homes in the US,” according to the C-Band Alliance, a satellite consortium of satellite companies. including Intelsat and SES. This group claims that the FCC has no authority to take over and conduct the auction without compensation.

AT&T, which owns the DirecTV satellite service and is the largest mobile operator in the country, does not agree with this. “As we have said, any way forward should chart the course for a fair, open and transparent auction; Compensation to C-Band licensees for waiver and relocation of services; US Treasury receipts; and a clear and reasonable transition plan that guarantees broadcasters, programmers and earth station operators that their services will not be interrupted and that the costs of their movement will be reimbursed, ”said a statement by Joan Marsh, AT & T's Executive Vice President for Regulatory and state external relations.

A public auction held by the Federal Communications Commission may lead to an increase in money for the government. Any proceeds will go directly to the United States Treasury. Over the past 25 years, the FCC has conducted 93 auctions totaling $ 116 billion for the Treasury. The C-Band Alliance said it would not leave the US Treasury empty-handed if it was allowed to conduct an auction privately. One official estimates that it could be $ 8 billion.

The main accusation of pushing the FCC to a public auction was Senator John F. Kennedy (R-La.). In a recent speech at a Senate meeting, Kennedy said he urges the FCC “to hold an open auction, take part of the $ 60 billion they are going to receive, and use it for rural broadband to make sure that the people who live in care about the countryside, as well as about people who live in cities. ”

Kennedy also claims that 5G is a problem of nationalism and national security. Noting that some satellite companies are located outside the United States, for example, Intelsat is based in Luxembourg, Kennedy said: “Our task is not to maximize profits for foreign corporations. Our task is to help our people, and this 5G has consequences for national security. Before we transmit these 5G radio waves to a foreign corporation, we need to know who they are going to give it to. What if they give it to China? "


Competition with China is a challenge on the 5G front. A 2018 Deloitte report says China has bypassed the U.S. by about $ 24 billion in 5G wireless infrastructure since 2015.


Pye of the FCC warned that China's spending – and leadership – on the 5G front could lead to the creation of “two different Internet networks,” which Pye added, “will be unhappy for consumers and potentially dangerous in the long run. "

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