The FCC Should Reevaluate Spectrum Allocation Strategy

Accenture, an information technology (IT) and consulting company, recently released a study analyzing the current state of radio spectrum allocation in the United States. The report highlights inefficiencies in how the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) allocates radio spectrum. It advocates for additional licensed spectrum that would allow wireless providers to innovate and expand 5G technology.

As a finite natural resource, radio spectrum is valuable because it enables the wireless transmissions that define modern communications. Information transfer such as mobile telephone calls and satellite connections are all made possible by spectrum. It is crucial for the United States to allocate spectrum efficiently in order to minimize interference and maximize benefits to consumers and the nation’s taxpayers.

The FCC’s role is to allocate spectrum effectively. However, this new study indicates that there is unused spectrum that could be used to benefit Americans by expanding rural broadband and deploying 5G nationwide, among other optimizations. Taxpayers benefit from the deployment of 5G nationwide through efficient services, additional jobs created, and boosts to the nation’s GDP.

5G also boasts many advantages for American consumers such as faster speeds, increased capacity, and lower latency. The wireless industry requires ample supply of spectrum to fully innovate and maximize technological efficiency. Spectrum allocation is especially relevant for taxpayers because there are ample opportunities for savings and revenue generation. The auction of spectrum can generate substantial revenues for Americans, benefitting the overall government and economy.

Accenture’s report highlights several bands as optimal candidates to bolster networks and meet growing demand. These bands include lower 3 Gigahertz (GHz), mid 4 GHz, and higher 7 to 8.4 GHz. Mid band spectrum in the 4.4 to 4.94 GHz range provides the best capacity to support 5G networks, according to the report. Many other countries utilize this band range, so the U.S. benefits from international harmonization by expanding usage of similar spectrum blocks. The study encourages the use of these bands for commercial wireless purposes.

However, Accenture points out inefficiencies in current spectrum accessibility. For example, unlicensed spectrum users and government stakeholders have significantly more access to spectrum in comparison to the commercial wireless industry. This imbalance makes it more difficult to support 5G services to deploy them to consumers. Due to increased demand, the commercial wireless industry will struggle to provide quality services to Americans. Ultimately, it is important to allocate more spectrum to these providers in order to fully reap economic benefits.

Previously, the FCC has made strides to take public comment into consideration through the Internet of Things (loT) Spectrum Notice of Inquiry. While this is a step in the right direction, it is important for the FCC to make tangible changes to balance spectrum allocation. National Taxpayers Union Foundation has long supported freeing up more spectrum to support American communication networks. With studies like Accenture’s providing additional supportive findings, it is time for the FCC to expand network accessibility and tap into the numerous benefits of 5G.