Move opens up 100 megahertz of airwaves previously reserved for military use. Frequencies to be auctioned for commercial use as early as December next year
The White House and Pentagon presented plans on Monday to help US telecoms companies build out new ultra-fast 5G networks by allowing commercial use of airwaves previously reserved for military radar.
The move will open 100 megahertz of spectrum to be auctioned by the US Federal Communications Commission for sharing with companies.
The Pentagon will continue to use the bandwidth, balancing commercial use with military needs, according to Dana Deasy, the Defence Department’s chief information officer.
The sale of rights in the 3450-3550 megahertz band could begin in December next year, allowing the wireless industry to offer 5G services on the frequencies as soon as mid-2022, said Michael Kratsios, the US chief technology officer.
The military now uses the bandwidth for high-powered defence radar systems that can be deployed aboard ships and aircraft. The radar will not be relocated and will remain in the airwaves being sold. The military plans to coordinate use with companies.
Wireless providers say they need more airwaves to support booming demand and to prepare for the transition to data-rich 5G signals. The Trump administration has made the new networks a policy priority.
Even as it pushes for more 5G signals, the Trump administration has worked to isolate Chinese equipment maker Huawei Technologies, saying it poses a security threat if embedded in the coming generation of fast networks. Huawei denies the accusation. In the US, Huawei gear is mainly used by rural carriers.
Mobile carriers covet the airwaves singled out on Monday because the frequencies can handle a lot of data and carry it over significant distances.
CTIA, a trade group with members including top three US mobile carriers Verizon Communications, AT&T and T-Mobile US, said in a February 21 filing that the US should explore moving radar systems to make room for civilian 5G service.
Michael O’Rielly, a Republican member of the FCC, has pushed to clear the airwaves to make way for commercial use.
In an April 8 letter to President Donald Trump
, O’Rielly singled out the Defence Department among federal agencies “exceptionally reluctant” to part with airwaves.
“Simply put, every excuse, delay tactic, and political chit is used to prevent the repurposing of any spectrum,” O’Rielly said.