5G Race: China Outpaces US Innovation, FCC Urges Biden Administration to Act

According to the experts, other nations are advancing beyond the United States in the mid-band spectrum and could lead global policy.
5G Race: China Outpaces US Innovation, FCC Urges Biden Administration to Act
Brendan Carr, commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee hearing in Washington on March 31, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Savannah Hulsey Pointer

The United States is lagging behind other countries, including China, in the global 5G race, experts say.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr spoke at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), titled “Spectrum Slump: Exploring the FCC’s Challenges in 5G Leadership,” which highlighted the critical role that efficient spectrum management plays in ensuring that the United States remains a leader in wireless innovation.

The invisible radio frequencies over which wireless signals propagate are referred to as the spectrum. It’s because of these signals that we’re able to do everything on our mobile devices, including make phone calls, use the internet, and get directions.

“Efficient spectrum management is vital to American leadership in wireless innovation,” the AEI announced at the event. “However, under the Biden administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has failed to enact a comprehensive spectrum strategy, with no spectrum auctions or spectrum bands in the FCC’s pipeline.”

The discussion raised concerns about the nation’s ability to maintain its competitive edge in the global 5G race.

The FCC commissioner and fellow panelists Shane Tews, a senior fellow at AEI, and Ajit Pai, a partner at Searchlight Capital, conveyed a sense of urgency that the issue of the United States falling behind other nations needs to be dealt with urgently by the Biden administration.

According to the experts, other nations are advancing beyond the United States in the mid-band spectrum, which is an essential component of 5G development, and there’s also a need for a national spectrum strategy.

Innovation and Geopolitical Leadership

As the panelists detailed the importance of spectrum bands in facilitating fast and affordable data, they emphasized the role of airwaves in driving innovation and geopolitical leadership.

Also of concern was what strategy the United States would bring to the World Radiocommunication Conference, held by the International Telecommunications Union, a branch of the United Nations, where nations of the world discuss their upcoming telecommunication goals.

“It’s essentially like your modeling when applied to spectrum where every country comes together with a delegation as a member state, and they essentially try to push policies that those particular countries would prefer and terms of spectrum policy,” Mr. Pai said.

“And the reason that’s important is to the extent that a particular policy is ratified or agreed to by a large number or ideally all countries, then you essentially have a spectrum band that everybody agrees on.”

The Searchlight Capital expert went on to say that equipment manufacturers and innovators can “eliminate and innovate around that,” saying that taking a strong plan to that event is important to keep the United States from falling behind the rest of the world on innovation strategies.

The panel acknowledged China’s aggressive approach, outpacing the United States in spectrum availability for 5G and highlighting the strategic significance of having a well-defined spectrum policy. The absence of specific goals, bands, or timeframes in the U.S. strategy was criticized, as it potentially relinquishes decision-making power to countries such as China, which already have a clear vision for their spectrum policy.

Mr. Carr said of President Joe Biden’s previously released spectrum plan: “It’s difficult to tell the truth to the government, but this is one where, you know, really, the emperor has no clothes. The spectrum plan had no spectrum.

“At a point in time in which we were falling behind China ... we need to start speaking with truth and with clarity and say that was a miss.”

The Epoch Times reached out to the Biden administration for comment but received none by press time.

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