Concerns About Weather Forecasting Shouldn't Forestall Spectrum Auction

As the Federal Communications Commission puts the finishing touches on a spectrum auction that promises more complete 5G rollout and access for Americans across the country, a few government bureaucrats are looking to put a last-minute stop to the spectrum auction with frivolous complaints that would - conveniently - mean that the government retains unjustifiable control over more airwave space. Taxpayers would lose as a result.

While the FCC has done a decent job allocating spectrum and recognizing the need for more wireless development, the majority of all usable spectrum is still controlled by the government. As newer technologies roll out, it’s important to ensure they have sufficient spectrum bandwidth to be developed in the private sector. This path not only prevents costly taxpayer-funded 5G deployment, it also means taxpayers benefit proactively from 5G-enabled innovations in everything from traffic management to garbage collection.

This spectrum auction is in the 24 gigahertz (ghz) spectrum band, which will be useful in new 5G wireless technologies, among them self-driving cars and applications driven by the Internet of Things. But some bureaucrats in the Department of Commerce raised a complaint that - big surprise - would have forestalled the auction and keep even more usable spectrum under government’s thumb.

There have been public comment periods over the last five years requesting input on this band auction, and only two weeks before the auction did the bureaucrats at the Department of Commerce raise any kind of objection. To any consumer or taxpayer, this looks like last-minute delay tactics that would prevent a crucial resource from getting into market development.

The ostensible objection is that the 24 ghz band is too close to the 23 ghz band, somehow interfering with certain weather forecasting technologies. But this is a concern unlikely to pan out, as multiple analysts have shown.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said of the concern,

“...the past two years during which we specifically solicited input on emission limits for the 24 GHz band, we have not been presented with any evidence of harmful interference from these existing services nor a validated study suggesting that operations in accordance with these rules would adversely affect use of the 23.6-24 GHz allocation…”

The FCC has done years of research and due diligence into this wireless auction. Along with other tools, auctions can help put unused spectrum to better use as well as raise money without burdening American taxpayers. Getting this particular spectrum auction into market development will be beneficial for consumers and taxpayers, and the FCC should proceed with confidence.