WISPA Statement on House C-band Hearing: Policymakers Must Employ Sharing Too When Freeing Up C-band for New Uses
The following statement may be attributed to Claude Aiken, president and CEO of WISPA:
Washington, DC, October 29, 2019 – We are heartened by the Subcommittee’s examination of the C-band and its proposed repurposing for more efficient use by wireless consumers. For decades, the C-band has been grossly underutilized, governed by rules from a bygone era. As the FCC works to address how the present occupants and new uses may simultaneously be accommodated in 500 MHz of that band, Chairman Doyle is right to inquire about the process which will bring that about.
But we’d like to offer a reminder: There are other viable plans to repurpose the C-band than solely auctioning off spectrum to mobile 5G providers for their largely urban clientele. More than 250 entities have supported a competing proposal by the Broadband Access Coalition (BAC), which employs both an auction and sharing of that valuable spectrum to open up the C-band for other uses, too.
The BAC (of which we are a member) has put forward a plan which urges the Commission to clear 200 MHz for mobile providers, and, with the remaining 300 MHz, allow sharing between incumbent satellite earth stations and fixed wireless providers, or WISPs. A technical study produced by WISPA, Google and Microsoft shows that sharing can safely and effectively occur in the C-band, giving access to approximately 80 million, mostly rural Americans to blazing fast broadband services.
Sharing the C-band would go a long way toward meeting the stated goal of lawmakers and policymakers of bridging the digital divide. It would quickly and cost-effectively help bring service to left-behind parts of America. And, it would inject new competition to places that lack it.
Sadly, however, sharing spectrum does not appear to be a key focus of this hearing.
If the merits of the C-Band sharing proposal are not explored at today’s hearing, WISPA believes this would be a lost opportunity.
Spectrum is finite. Consumer demand is growing. Auction of the C-Band to boost allocation of spectrum for the next generation of wireless services, on its own, will not bridge the stubborn digital divide. An auction plus sharing will. All policymakers should embrace this notion, which is a win for the U.S. Treasury, the satellite industry, 5G providers and their urban customers, and WISPs serving their rural communities.
WISPA’s approximately 800 members are composed of fixed Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) and the industry that supports fixed wireless broadband, including equipment suppliers, support services, and other components needed to run a successful business. Our members, and WISPs, in general, provide broadband access to over 4 million residential and business customers, often in exclusively rural areas.