13 April 2019
Washington: US President Donald Trump has said that the US government will free up wireless spectrum and build better infrastructure to take a leadership in 5G, the next-generation wireless network.
His remarks came after the country's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Friday a plan to start largest spectrum auction and spend over USD 20 billion for rural high-speed internet, Xinhua news agency reported.
FCC chief Ajit Pai said that American wireless carriers would be bidding for as much as 3.4 gigahertz of "millimeter-wave" spectrum starting on December 10 this year.
Verizon, one of America's largest telecommunications companies, announced on April 3 the official operation of its commercial 5G network in two US cities, making it the world's first commercial 5G mobile service for customers with 5G-equipped smartphones.
While the US leads in some key 5G-readiness metrics, China and other countries are ahead in making critical mid-band spectrum available for 5G, according to a report made in April by CTIA, a trade association representing the US wireless communications industry and companies throughout the mobile ecosystem.
The millimeter-wave spectrum or high-band spectrum refers to frequencies above 24 GHz. Its capacity is higher but coverage is lower than the mid-band spectrum. So the mid-band spectrum can travel far to provide broader service than the high-band spectrum.
Another challenge for 5G service is the country's weaker infrastructure in rural areas, according to the CTIA report.
Trump on Friday said the 5G industry in the US would be "private sector-driven and private sector-led," so the US government does not have to spend lots of money.
But the FCC unveiled a plan to provide USD 20.4 billion in the coming decade to connect up to 4 million rural homes and small businesses to high-speed internet.
This is part of FCC's three-part 5G Fast Plan, namely, spectrum freeing-up, small antennas installment and deployment of optical fibre, according to Pai.
Trump described in his speech the building of 5G service a race that "America must win," and "will win."
But FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in her Twitter account on Friday, "from imposing tariffs on 5G equipment to alienating allies on 5G security to falling behind the rest of the world on critical mid-band spectrum," the Trump administration has yet to offer a workable plan for U.S. leadership.
"So far this Administration's interventions on 5G have done more harm than good," said Rosenworcel.