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Policymakers Across the Board Agree: It’s Time to Refuel the Spectrum Pipeline

This week, we witnessed a clear consensus emerge on an issue critical for America’s continued economic growth and leadership: our country’s spectrum policy. Our ability to remain the global leader in wireless depends on our ability to free up spectrum – specifically 350 MHz of licensed spectrumPDF. That’s why it was so heartening to see policymakers find bipartisan agreement on this issue in the past few days.

On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee held an important hearing that brought together government and industry stakeholders, including CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker, to discuss how Congress can facilitate greater commercial access to wireless spectrum. We recently highlightedPDF the critical role Congress plays in the spectrum reallocation process, and we fully agree with Chairman Thune’s directive that “Congress is often the most effective facilitator in bringing more wireless bands to the marketplace.”

Finding ways to make more spectrum available for commercial use and ensuring more efficient use of spectrum by federal users has traditionally been – and should continue to be – a bipartisan effort. Ranking Member Nelson recognized this history of collaboration, and we are encouraged by his appeal that lawmakers “should exert that same degree of leadership and consensus to address the future of U.S. spectrum policy.” Across parties and panelists, including FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel, there was universal agreement on the continued need for this collaborative approach on spectrum issues.

Earlier in the week, a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing saw FCC Chairman Wheeler, Commissioner Pai and Representatives on both sides of the aisle find common ground on the need for additional spectrum. There is no doubt that “unleashing spectrum for broadband remains one of the Commission’s most effective strategies for spurring economic growth and job creation,” as Chairman Wheeler concludedPDF.

In another show of bipartisanship, former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioner Robert McDowell penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal this week, noting their “side-by-side” partnership to find “creative ways to put the power of spectrum into the hands of entrepreneurs and consumers.” In addition, NTIA and the Administration also made clear this week their commitment “to supporting innovation in the wireless industry by helping make more spectrum available for commercial providers…”

Here’s why this consensus on spectrum policy is so important. Mobile data traffic grew more than 35-fold from 2009 to 2014, and today the average user consumes 1.8 gigabits of data each month. By 2019, mobile data traffic is projected to be six times the amount flowing as of last year. Infrastructure deployments and efficient spectrum use alone cannot keep up with the rapidly growing demand for 4G connectivity, let alone foster the next generation of 5G technologies. To meet this increase, the wireless industry needs 350 more megahertz of licensed spectrum by the end of the decade.

On top of the need for more spectrum, the wireless industry is also facing a timing challenge. As we recently reportedPDF, it takes 13 years on average to reallocate spectrum for wireless use. For our industry to handle a six-fold increase in wireless data by 2020, prepare for the explosion of connected devices in the Internet of Things, and leverage our 4G lead as countries around the world prepare for 5G, one thing is clear: we need to start planning our spectrum future now.

Because as we look out toward the future, our wireless needs will only continue to grow. Wireless is the millennials’ tool for innovation, empowerment and entrepreneurship. It’s not just voice and text. It’s a seamless connected life – health, education, retail, energy, cars, appliances and homes.

Wireless is also an important economic and employment engine. Licensed spectrum generates more than $400 billion in economic activity every yearPDF and for every person employed in the wireless industry, another 6.5 find jobs. Our connected future and the corresponding economic and social benefits that follow depend on wireless networks, which in turn depend on investment and innovation.

The Administration and the FCC deserve a good deal of credit for setting the original goal of making 300 megahertz of spectrum available for mobile broadband by this end of this year. To date, 135 megahertzPDF has been made available, and a successful broadcast incentive auction will be critical to helping close the remaining deficit. But after the incentive auction, the licensed spectrum pipeline is empty.

This was a very good week in our collective effort to maintain this nation’s wireless leadership. We will need many more good weeks to ensure that successful outcome, but with policymakers united in bipartisan agreement, our wireless future is looking brighter.

CTIA Statement After Filing a Joint Brief on the Open Internet to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit

After filing a joint brief PDF on the Open Internet to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit, I said:

“America’s global mobile leadership is at risk under the FCC’s heavy-handed net neutrality rules on wireless broadband. There is no question: wireless is different. Due to the technical realities of wireless networks, providers must be able to manage usage so that all consumers have the highest quality experience. By all accounts, under light-touch regulation the U.S. wireless industry created jobs, boosted our economy and provided numerous benefits for Americans. We should maintain this approach that has been supported on a bipartisan basis for decades. We must make sure we remain the envy of the world by encouraging continued investment, innovation and competition in our mobile platform.”

CTIA Statement on LTE-U Letter from Six U.S. Senators to FCC Chairman Wheeler

In response to the letter from U.S. Senators Schatz, Blumenthal, Udall, Markey, Cantwell and McCaskill to FCC Chairman Wheeler on LTE-U, I said:

"The cable industry’s continued efforts to inhibit the roll out of new wireless services that could help deliver consumers better service and new Internet of Things offerings is disappointing. LTE-U is pro-consumer and pro-competition, and will co-exist with other users of unlicensed. There is no need or basis for the FCC to intervene. The FCC does not approve particular technologies for use in the unlicensed bands, and cable’s request flies in the face of their own rhetoric that unlicensed spectrum works because of 'permissionless innovation.' Unlicensed should remain free for all to innovate and deliver new services to consumers, not just cable broadband subscribers."

 

VIDEO: America is Mobile; Requires Licensed Spectrum

Americans are use wireless in new innovative ways, which means more data over wireless networks. In order to meet Americans’ growing demand by 2020, we need more than 350 megahertz of licensed spectrum. #MoreSpectrum will help America remain the global leader in wireless.

Learn why spectrum ...

CTIA Statement in Response to FCC Enforcement Bureau Field Office Closures

After the FCC Enforcement Bureau field office closures, I said:

“Spectrum management and protection against interference have been core FCC roles since its creation in 1934. Today, these roles are more important than ever. Consumers value wireless services and carriers invest based on an expectation of no harmful interference. The Field Offices ...

Mobile Wireless Competition: The Proof is in the Numbers

This week, the record in the FCC’s Mobile Wireless Competition Report proceeding officially closes and it is an opportune time to take stock of a wireless marketplace that produces services and devices so compelling that 89% of Americans use them multiple times every day

CTIA Statement in Response to Senator Blumenthal and Commissioner Rosenworcel Press Conference on Robocalls

After U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Federal Communication Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel held their press conference about robocalls today, I said:

“We appreciate Senator Blumenthal’s and Commissioner Rosenworcel’s focus on robocalls. No one wants robocalls, and the attention to stop them needs to focus on those bad actors who are willfully and blatantly ...

CTIA Statement After the Senate Passed the Integrated Public Alert Warning System Modernization Act

After the United States Senate approved S. 1180, the Integrated Public Alert Warning System Modernization Act, I said:

“CTIA congratulates Senators Johnson and McCaskill on the Senate passage of the Integrated Public Alert Warning System Modernization Act. The bill’s unanimous approval is a testament to their thoughtful, bipartisan approach. CTIA greatly ...

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