The Pentagon and the White House have identified an additional 100 MHz in the coveted mid-band frequency spectrum to be used for the commercial 5G wireless technology network within the United States.
The announcement on Monday takes frequencies previously designated for use by the Department of Defense and makes them available for spectrum sharing between the military and commercial telecommunication businesses.
Senior administration officials say the spectrum, ranging from 3450 to 3550 MHz, is “ideal” for 5G because waves on that frequency can travel long distances at fast speeds, which could ensure more access to the network across the United States.
But that particular mid-band spectrum currently supports critical military operations ranging from air defense, missile and gunfire control, counter mortar, battlefield weapon locations and air traffic control, according to Dana Deasy, chief information officer of the Department of Defense.
Deasy addressed concerns about sharing the spectrum Monday, stressing that the Pentagon was planning a spectrum relocation transition that would minimize any impact to military operations.
“This particular part of the band between 3450 and 3550 MHz has been identified because it can be made available without sacrificing our nation’s great military and national security capabilities,” said Michael Kratsios, the Trump administration’s chief technology officer.
Deasy said the latest mid-band transition would use rules similar to those agreed upon in previous government-commercial sharing plans.
An auctioning of the right to share a nearby frequency band, dubbed the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, with the military is currently ongoing and could bring in as much as $10 billion.
The latest moves will provide U.S. commercial businesses with a continuous spectrum spanning from 3450 MHz to 3980 MHz in which to build a new 5G network. 5G will come with faster data transfer, better responsiveness and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once.
The United States and China are currently racing to deploy 5G with the hopes of dominating the technology’s standards, patents and leadership in the global supply chain.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will auction the latest 100 MHz spectrum beginning in December 2021 for use as soon as mid-2022, a process that senior administration officials say chops the typical time for mid-band availability from years to months.
“This process reflects the fastest transfer of federal spectrum to commercial use in history,” Kratsios added.