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Latest 5G Updates: The Possibility of Nationalized 5G; AT&T’s Endangered 5G Licenses

Latest 5G Updates: The Possibility of Nationalized 5G; AT&T’s Endangered 5G Licenses

Just this week, Ajit Pai, the current chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an official statement saying that any effort by the United States government to establish a nationalized 5G network would prove to be a costly endeavor, and even serve as an unwelcome distraction from the policies that should be implemented in transitioning American consumers into the 5G era.

Many believe that Pai issued those words as a reaction to an article published in Axios, which talks about a proposed nationalized 5G plan put forward by a senior National Security Council official. The proposal is 30 pages long, and it mainly discusses the possibility of having the US government set up and then maintain a countrywide 5G network within the next three years. It was also stated in the proposal that having a nationalized 5G would allow the US to compete better with China’s 5G efforts.

But according to Pai, he does not believe that the government is the one that is in the proper position to dictate progress and foster investment and innovation in the wireless sector. The FCC Chairman argues that the market itself is behind the wheel, and what the government should focus instead is to help promote spectrum commercially, and then establish guidelines on which the private sector can build the next generation infrastructure needed for a 5G future. 

Meanwhile, the FCC has revealed that it has reached a settlement with AT&T’s FiberTower, with the company agreeing to hand back hundreds of millimeter wave spectrum licenses to the agency. What this means moving forward is that the second biggest wireless carrier in the country will no longer be able to take full advantage of those spectrum licenses. With the licenses returned, the FCC can choose to reauction them in the future.

Also, FiberTower is also agreeing to abandon every one of its two dozen GigaHertz spectrum licenses (it has more than a hundred in all), and about the same number of 39 GigaHertz spectrum licenses. Because AT&T now has lost those licenses, it will only get its hands on about 479 of FiberTower’s 39 GigaHertz spectrum licenses.

AT&T is now in a position to receive roughly 360 MegaHertz of spectrum in the 39 GigaHertz band from FiberTower. On top of that, AT&T is still required to get approval from the FCC before it can gain FiberTower’s spectrum licenses, under the terms of the settlement.