U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled, “The Race to 5G: Exploring Spectrum Needs to Maintain U.S. Global Leadership,” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. The hearing will examine the economic impact of 5G and the importance of American leadership to meet the growing consumer demand for reliable broadband services.
- The Honorable Meredith Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer, CTIA – The Wireless Association
- Mr. Dean Brenner, Senior Vice President, Spectrum Strategy and Technology, Qualcomm
- Mr. Craig T. Cowden, Senior Vice President, Wireless Technology, Charter Communications Inc.
- Mr. Tom Stroup, President, Satellite Industry Association
*Witness list subject to change.
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman John Thune
This morning, our Committee meets again to examine the issue of spectrum needed to maintain U.S. global leadership in next generation wireless services.
5G, with gigabit speeds, extremely low latency, and the ability to connect tremendous numbers of devices, sounds like a wireless service from the future.
But make no mistake, the 5G evolution is upon us.
The race to lead the world in 5G has begun.
It is a race we must win, but by many accounts we are already behind China and other nations in key areas.
Here’s what’s at stake.
5G is expected to contribute $275 billion in new investment, $500 billion in economic growth, and three million new jobs.
It is estimated that American leadership in 4G contributed more than $100 billion additional dollars to our nation’s economy.
We have the technology.
The technology created by American industries, including those represented here today, leads the world in next generation mobile communications.
But that is only part of the equation. Spectrum and deployment are also critical.
We must ensure that wireless providers have spectrum on which their systems can operate, and they must be able to deploy those networks in a reasonable and timely manner.
The MOBILE NOW Act, legislation I introduced with the Ranking Member that was enacted earlier this year, addressed both of these critical components.
But, as we noted at the time, it was just a down payment.
There is much more to do.
We will address ways to reduce barriers to deployment in the near future.
Senator Schatz and I introduced the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act a few weeks ago.
It reflects many months of hard work, of meetings with stakeholders from across the country, and of negotiation, and it is still a work in progress as we try to bring the benefits of 5G to American consumers, reap the benefits of 5G leadership for America, and respect the important role State and local governments play in deployment decisions.
It has been a pleasure working with Senator Schatz and his team, and I look forward to continuing our work.
But today, our focus is on spectrum.
It is the lifeblood of wireless communications.
If we do not have enough of the right kinds of spectrum available, we simply cannot have the speed and the connections we need.
This is particularly important for those of us in more rural parts of America.
The business cases for delivering 5G to New York and Chicago are much different than for Sioux Falls and Spearfish.
If inadequacy of spectrum resources makes 5G less viable, it will be the rural areas that no longer make business sense.
The Federal Communications Commission has concluded that next generation wireless networks will require efficient use of the low, mid, and high bands of spectrum.
The FCC, acting in a bipartisan manner, has moved forward with bold proposals to make thousands of megahertz of high-band spectrum available for licensed and unlicensed, fixed and mobile use, and it has proceedings underway to make even more high-band spectrum available.
And the broadcast incentive auction completed last year was an important contribution to much-needed low-band spectrum, although we must identify additional low-band spectrum for auction in the near future.
With regard to mid-band spectrum, however, the United States is falling significantly behind.
This is particularly troubling because mid-band spectrum is crucial to the initial deployment of 5G.
Both the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the FCC have taken important steps in the last several months to make mid-band spectrum available.
But the fact remains that only 150 megahertz of mid-band spectrum has been specifically identified for likely 5G use, and that is on a shared basis under a creative, but novel licensing scheme.
This puts us far behind both China and South Korea in this regard and represents a serious threat to American leadership of next-generation technology.
The FCC’s current proceeding on the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band is considering new approaches to get mid-band spectrum to market quickly, while protecting key satellite and related broadcast and cable operations in that band, including providers like Midco in South Dakota.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on that matter.
While we pursue licensed spectrum for 5G, we must also be mindful of the critical role unlicensed spectrum plays throughout the communications landscape.
Wi-Fi operating on unlicensed spectrum is responsible for a tremendous and growing amount of the data transmitted in our homes and offices, and is expected to play an increasing role in the hand-off of traffic originating or terminating on licensed spectrum, as well as in the Internet of Things.
It was in recognition of these facts that MOBILE NOW required identifying 100 megahertz of spectrum below 8 gigahertz before 2023.
I recently wrote to the FCC noting that the 6 gigahertz band had particular promise for unlicensed use, and noting that much more unlicensed spectrum would be needed soon.
As we consider specific spectrum bands that can be made available for licensed and unlicensed use, we must also ensure that our policies and procedures keep spectrum in the pipeline.
In that regard, I want to commend the bipartisan work of Senators Wicker and Schatz on SPECTRUM NOW, and Senators Gardner and Hassan on the AIRWAVES Act.
I also appreciate that Senators Cruz Markey, and several other members of our Committee are actively exploring new ideas for making additional spectrum available.
Making the Spectrum Relocation Fund a better resource for studying spectrum and relocating federal incumbents is essential if we are to efficiently make federal spectrum available for commercial use.
Identifying spectrum resources not just for the next three years, but for the next 10 years and beyond is essential if we are to retain American leadership.
We have a distinguished panel before us today and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can deliver the benefits of 5G to the American people and secure continuing American leadership in next-generation telecommunications.I’ll now turn to the Ranking Member for his opening remarks
Today, we hear from the terrestrial wireless industry, the cable industry and the satellite industry about their spectrum needs and plans for next-generation 5G wireless services. These networks have great promise for the nation’s digital future and the 5G future is near with companies preparing to deploy the technology soon. As a result, I understand the call for additional dedicated airwaves to support these 5G networks.
In particular, I am pleased that the committee will hear from the satellite industry, which is essential to so much of the nation’s communications networks.
The next generation of satellite-based communications systems holds great promise. Many of these new worldwide constellations are in the testing phase and even Facebook has confirmed its interest in developing a satellite broadband platform to close the international digital divide. I am proud that the Space Coast in Florida is at the epicenter of so much of this innovation and investment.
The nation must maintain a balanced spectrum policy to support various types of wireless technologies as an engine of innovation. That means we need additional licensed spectrum for 5G and other services, but also, we have to make more spectrum available for unlicensed services. We should free up blocks of spectrum when we can, but given that relocating spectrum users has proven quite difficult, we should fully embrace spectrum sharing when we cannot.
And we cannot forget the need to make sure that the federal government, and in particular our national security and homeland security agencies, have enough spectrum today and into the future for their mission-critical operations.
It remains essential for us to make sure adequate spectrum is available for next-generation wireless services, but we need to take those steps in a thoughtful, non-partisan way.
We were able to pass the MOBILE NOW bill earlier this year to help foster this 5G revolution – a bill developed through that bipartisan collaborative process. And I know we will continue to work together to address additional spectrum issues, including those being raised by our witnesses today.
Although the purpose of this hearing is spectrum, let me say a quick word about infrastructure since the prepared remarks of several of our witnesses talk about the issue.
It is true that 5G networks are designed around denser wireless infrastructure, made up of many small cell facilities. I know the chairman has a bill on this siting process, and I know that I am not alone in receiving a lot of passionate feedback from local officials, public power companies and others about that bill. I look forward to having a robust conversation about the bill at a future hearing, which must include participation by local government and other interested stakeholders.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Meredith BakerPresident and Chief Executive Officer, CTIA – The Wireless Association
Mr. Dean BrennerSenior Vice President, Spectrum Strategy and Technology, Qualcomm
Mr. Craig T. CowdenSenior Vice President, Wireless Technology, Charter Communications Inc.
Mr. Tom StroupPresident, Satellite Industry Association