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FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel on 5G and the Need for More Spectrum

The FCC will be addressing 5G in the coming weeks.

Asa Mathat

Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said Thursday at Code/Mobile at The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif., that the wireless industry needs more spectrum and that the government should be willing to chip in to help.

A huge swath of airwaves are reserved for various federal departments, ranging from defense to firefighting, that could be better utilized either by being shared with private industry or given over entirely for commercial use.

“We doled out those airwaves to the government authorities when spectrum wasn’t quite so scarce,” Rosenworcel said, noting that there is growing bipartisan interest in studying how to reallocate this spectrum.

Rosenworcel has also been outspoken on the need for the United States to move more quickly on next-generation cellular networks, known as 5G. She is a proponent of allocating certain higher-frequency bands of spectrum for this coming generation of wireless devices and combining it with “small-cell technology,” which uses small radio towers to boost a network’s capacity in urban areas where the demand is greatest.

“In the next few weeks at the FCC we are going to vote on the rule-making that identifies some of those high bands of spectrum and to figure out how to push forward on 5G,” Rosenworcel said.

The U.S. has been a leader with the current generation of networks, known as LTE. Though America accounts for around 5 percent of the world’s population, it accounts for about a third of 4G mobile devices.

“Laurels, however, are not good resting places,” Rosenworcel said in a March interview. “We need to start now on what is next. While the contours of 5G are still being developed, it’s clear that the race to 5G is on. Other nations are taking the early lead, with planning already under way in South Korea, Japan and China — as well as in Europe. The U.S. needs to get in the game and take steps now to build on our 4G success.”

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