THE ISSUE

Spectrum is a finite resource, and Americans’ consumption of it – through more and more wireless devices that consume increasing amounts of bandwidth – is growing at an exponential rate. The good news is that sensing technologies can expand the spectrum pie through spectrum sharing.

With sharing, spectrum bandwidth is made available for other users and uses when it is not needed by the primary user. It could be compared to ride-sharing in that the car owner maintains priority use of the car when he needs it for personal use, but it can also be used by others when he doesn’t. Spectrum sharing safely increases the amount of use we can get from this increasingly-limited resource.

Advances Investment

Past success with spectrum sharing has demonstrated that opening limited spectrum to new users can drive investment by public and private stakeholders, prompting the development and deployment of new capabilities and technologies. As spectrum sharing opportunities are explored in new spectrum bands, it promises to generate even greater investment in new technologies across all spectrum-dependent capabilities.

Drives Innovation

Sharing our limited spectrum creates new opportunities across spectrum-dependent capabilities, such as mission essential national security systems, mobile wireless, and commercial satellite applications. Shared networks have already accomplished much, such as: improving the efficiency of supply chains; warehouses; critical seaports; enabling advanced manufacturing techniques; and increasing efficiency, yields, and cost saving for farms—all while ensuring that critical Federal systems can continue to operate effectively.

Spurs Competition

No single private entity or industry should hold the key to an enterprise, university, or other entity’s ability to access the airwaves needed to deploy an innovative, purpose-built services or capabilities. A shared framework helps ensure that does not happen. This competition drives even more innovation.

Maximizes Valuable Uses of a Limited Resource

Shared spectrum creates value for both public and private sector users. For example, CBRS combines auctioned and non-auctioned authorizations into a single frequency band, maximizing scale of the equipment ecosystem to the benefit of many different types of users. This tiered spectrum sharing model ensures the protection of America’s critical national security systems while allowing new users to make the most of that same spectrum.

Is Internationally Recognized

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has long recognized that, “exciting new sharing technologies” are vital to U.S. competitiveness and has set an “ambitious but achievable goal” to allow for more intensive use of the airwaves. Other countries have also recognized the value of midband private 5G networks and are considering efficient ways of making spectrum available in new ways for new users and uses.

Protects Mission-Critical National Security Functions

Many spectrum bands sought by a small group of nationwide carriers for exclusive, high-power licensed use currently house critical national security systems which cannot feasibly be relocated. For example, when speaking about the 3.1 GHz band, Pentagon CIO John Sherman argued it would be “absolutely untenable” for the Department of Defense to vacate the band, which is critical for DoD systems that service members train on before deploying overseas and utilize every day to protect our homeland. The Pentagon estimates that vacating the band would cost hundreds of billions of dollars and take decades to complete.

In certain bands used for national security systems, a CBRS-like low-power sharing regime offers a feasible alternative to relocation, allowing for the provision of new spectrum-dependent capabilities or services while protecting national security systems.