Rural US operators stuck in 5G holding pattern - Mobile World Live

Rural US operators stuck in 5G holding pattern

04 APR 2019

The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) warned deployment of 5G in rural America could be hindered by delays to the transfer of 600MHz spectrum operators secured in an auction two years ago.

Steven Berry, CEO of the association (pictured), told Mobile World Live CCA members secured 80 per cent of the spectrum available in the sale. Most are relying on the spectrum to spearhead their 5G launches, but are stuck waiting for broadcasters which currently use the airwaves to vacate the bands.

He explained the spectrum “allows us to get out a lot further in rural America”. While progress clearing the spectrum was running ahead of a designated 39-month schedule just a few months ago, Berry said the advantage was lost due to flooding and winter weather across the country, which diverted operators’ attention to disaster recovery efforts.

With the Federal Communications Commision (FCC) auction of 24GHz causing further distraction, Berry stressed that the industry “can’t forget that we have to finish that clearing process,” adding “hopefully we can expedite it.”

Other challenges
In a recorded interview (see below) Berry also flagged access to federal funding as another key issue for rural operators, calling on the FCC to ensure eligibility maps for government programmes accurately reflect existing coverage.

“We must have accurate, reliable data to ensure unserved and underserved areas can access Mobility Fund II support. Rural America cannot be left behind in the digital world,” he said.

The CEO noted discussions on spectrum, infrastructure policy and federal funding will be front and centre at CCA’s Mobile Carriers Show, which opens on 8 April in Denver, Colorado.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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