FCC To Hold Big 5G Auction, Spend $20B For Rural Internet

A cellular phone tower. The Trump administration will soon auction more bandwidth to allow 5G wireless service

A cellular phone tower. The Trump administration will soon auction more bandwidth to allow 5G wireless service

President Donald Trump said the US government would free up much wireless spectrum and build better infrastructure to take a leadership in 5G network.

The Federal Communications Commission plans to auction the broadest set of airwaves yet to speed the nation's adoption of super-fast 5G wireless communications, as well as devoting more than $20 billion to improving mobile connections in rural areas. "The work this administration's FCC has done to ensure America remains the world leader in internet and telecommunications technology will produce incalculable benefits for our economy for decades to come", Ken Cuccinelli, FreedomWorks Foundation Director of the Regulatory Action Center, said in a press statement. "We don't want rural Americans to be left behind". Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the auction is a good step but the commission must also pivot "to mid-band" spectrum "or risk falling behind other countries".

The decision to omit mention of China lines up with an apparent switch in strategy that senior administration officials have pursued in recent weeks, advocating a "country and company" agnostic policy when it comes to 5G security.

With that, the FCC plans to push more spectrum, or communications airwaves, into the market, promote 5G infrastructure, and modernize what the commission calls "outdated" regulations.

The new 5G system boosts data speeds to 450 megabits per second, with peak speeds of almost 1 gigabit per second - about 10 times faster than 4G speeds.

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Last week, South Korea became the first country to switch on a nationwide 5G network as the country's three wireless carriers announced the launch of their commercial service in 85 cities. On Friday, the FCC kicked off its process for designing the auction protocols in its monthly meeting.

"The idea of state-designed and -operated 5G networks in the US makes no sense on its own terms".

One challenge is the lack of USA manufacturers of 5G network equipment, an arena where China's Huawei and ZTE are set to dominate. Its goal is to connect up to four million rural homes and business to high-speed internet. Its capacity is higher but coverage is lower than the mid-band spectrum.

Friday's announcement confirms that the U.S. will rely on private networks despite some speculation it would seek to nationalise 5G on national security grounds. Pai said consideration is "ongoing" without offering a deadline for a decision.

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