Press Release Spectrum Reform

Public Knowledge Urges Congress to Bolster C-band Auction by Promoting Competition in 5G and Allowing Rural Spectrum Sharing

February 28, 2020 , ,

Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Report and Order and Order of Proposed Modification that would reform the use of the C-band (3.7-3.98 GHz) to support the deployment of 5G. Public Knowledge, while supportive of the public auction, is disappointed by the rejection of “aggregation limits” that promote competition by preventing the largest carriers from winning the vast majority of available licenses. Public Knowledge is also disappointed with the FCC failing to adopt a proposal by small, rural internet service providers and others to share remaining satellite spectrum with rural providers for broadband. Congress should improve the public auction by passing a bill that reserves the bulk of the revenue from the auction for rural broadband, rather than giving a windfall to the satellite licensees. 

The following can be attributed to Bertram Lee, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“While Public Knowledge is pleased that Chairman Pai has committed to going forward with a public auction on C-band, there are still a number of issues with the current Order. The proposed Order does not do enough to protect competition in the 5G marketplace, allow for flexible use of the band for rural broadband through point to multipoint sharing, or limit the windfall going to the satellite companies. 

“Aggregation limits on spectrum promote competition by helping to ensure that there is competition in the 5G marketplace. Without aggregation limits, one company would be able to dominate 5G nationwide, which would severely limit consumer choice and further damage competition in the wireless marketplace. Consumers already face limited choices in wireless and smaller carriers should be allowed to compete for this valuable spectrum.

“The Commission’s decision to not include the proposal by rural internet service providers to allow point to multipoint sharing within the rest of the satellite spectrum is a major blow to rural broadband. The proposal would allow more people in places where fiber is too expensive to have broadband access. Sadly, the order does not consider this important point and misses a unique opportunity to support rural broadband deployment.

“Given the importance of the C-band, Congress should focus on getting C-band right rather than making the spectrum available fast. We hope that our concerns on spectrum sharing, auction proceeds, and competition are heard by Congress and reflected in future legislation. Congress needs to make the proceeds from C-band available for rural broadband deployment and not give the satellite companies billions of dollars that would otherwise go to closing the digital divide.”