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CTIA’s Race to 5G Summit

Remarks of David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information,
at CTIA's Race to 5G Summit, Washington, D.C., April 19, 2018

--As Prepared for Delivery--

Thank you. It’s great to be here and see such widespread commitment to the United States winning the race to 5G. As you’ve no doubt heard today, 5G and the technologies it will enable promise transformative changes that will improve health care, advance manufacturing and benefit public safety.

I’d like to commend CTIA for its Global Race to 5G report issued earlier this week, which featured studies by Recon Analytics and Analysys Mason. Collectively they provide significant data points on why 5G is so important, as well as recommendations on what needs to be done to ensure America maintains its wireless leadership.

One of the most powerful illustrations from that report is the contrast between the benefits we’ve seen as a country from our leadership in 4G with the effects that losing wireless leadership had on Europe and Japan. Our leadership in 4G helped create hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs and a booming market for American hardware and software. In countries that fell behind, the negative effects were dramatic – the report quoted an EU official that said the bloc lost nearly its entire market share for mobile phones.

The report also makes a strong case that government action is needed to help our country win the race to 5G. Specifically, it calls on the government to find more spectrum for commercial services and to modernize infrastructure rules. During my time at NTIA, these goals will be a prime focus.

We know the best path to ensuring America’s 5G leadership is the entire government working in a coordinated fashion to support the industry’s 5G push. From my perspective, this support will take four forms: making spectrum available, removing obstacles to deploying infrastructure, ensuring we have a collective strategy to secure 5G networks, and collaborating on the global standards that will define how the 5G race unfolds now and for the foreseeable future.

Finding the Spectrum to Power 5G

NTIA will play a number of important roles, but our chief responsibility will be finding enough spectrum to support competitive, ubiquitous and secure 5G in America. To get there, we need to have spectrum available across the low, mid and high bands. We have been very successful in leveraging existing interagency processes to assess which bands can be opened up – from the low bands all the way up through the millimeter wave range, and beyond.

Up in the millimeter wave range, NTIA continues to support the FCC’s Spectrum Frontiers proceeding by collaborating on an approach for sharing between federal and non-federal users in the 37 GHz band. We’re optimistic that if we get this right, it could serve as a model to inform how sharing might be done in other millimeter wave bands, as well.

We also welcome the FCC’s vote this week to establish auction rules for the 24 and 28 GHz bands. And we’re working with the Commission to explore what other high bands might be good candidates to make available. The Commission, of course has opened up a proceeding on bands above 95 GHz, and just yesterday Chairman Pai announced a proposal that could lead to more effective uses of the Educational Broadband Service spectrum in the 2.5 GHz range.

For the mid-band range, NTIA has identified the 3450-3550 MHz band as a candidate for repurposing for commercial services. We still have a lot of work to do to determine how to protect government incumbents – in particular Defense Department radars that are vital for national security.

DOD plans to submit a proposal under the Spectrum Pipeline Act to carry out a comprehensive study to determine the potential for introducing advanced wireless services in this band without harming its current operations. This is exciting, and exactly what Congress envisioned in 2015 when it expanded the permissible uses of the Spectrum Relocation Fund to include studying the possibility of freeing up spectrum by consolidating systems or otherwise using spectrum more efficiently and effectively.

Directly adjacent to that band is the 3.5 GHz Citizen Broadband Radio Service – CBRS – spectrum. Engineers in our Office of Spectrum Management and our research lab, the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences, are helping to bring CBRS to life.

This work revolves around the innovative concept of dynamic protection areas, or “DPAs,” which are designed to replace static exclusion zones and allow more flexible spectrum sharing between federal and non-federal users. The 3.5 GHz model demonstrates how we can move toward more dynamic sharing, even as we continue to protect key government systems that are vital for national security and other public services. And the collaborative work in the 3.5 GHz process points toward a promising future for managing our nation’s spectrum resources.

In the low-band, the Spectrum Pipeline Act requires NTIA to identify for auction 30 megahertz of federal spectrum below 3 GHz by 2022, and to identify an additional 100 megahertz beyond that. As part of this effort, NTIA, along with OMB and the FCC, has been busy evaluating proposed “pipeline plans” submitted by federal agencies. Two have been approved and funded: the 1300-1350 MHz and 1675-1680 MHz bands. Additional pipeline plans are under review or are being prepared.

NTIA is committed to developing and implementing novel spectrum management approaches. We’re happy to see that Congress is interested in novel approaches as well. Ray Baum’s Act, signed into law as part of the budget deal, includes a provision on researching incentives for agencies to relinquish or share spectrum, and it also requires a study of bidirectional sharing.

As another example, the President’s Budget for FY19 includes a proposal to authorize NTIA to administer leases of federal spectrum to non-federal users.

This is still very much a proposal at this point, and many details need to be sorted out, but I believe it has great potential. We’d be looking to find ways to incentivize agencies that use spectrum to help us identify bands. Could upgraded technology or capabilities serve as an incentive, or could the agencies become beneficiaries of services provided by the new user of the spectrum? We’d need to sort out how to fund the resources needed to negotiate leases and administer the program, but the idea is to add more tools to the toolbox to help put underutilized spectrum to use, while maximizing the economic value of spectrum and protecting federal spectrum users.

Infrastructure Efforts

Beyond spectrum, deploying small cells and other wireless infrastructure will also be vitally important to our success in 5G.

This Administration has prioritized efforts to modernize federal processes for permitting and review of major infrastructure projects – to spur investment, speed construction and decrease costs.

NTIA is working to improve federal coordination around this effort through an interagency working group that we co-chair with the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. The working group is focusing on three areas. The first is federal permitting. We’re looking at what’s required to place broadband facilities on Federal lands, with the goal of streamlining permitting efforts and establishing consistency across agencies.

The second area is federal funding of broadband projects. The group will report on the effectiveness of various federal broadband programs and will issue recommendations on how to better coordinate funding streams.

The third area for the working group is leveraging federal assets for broadband deployment. The federal government is the single largest landowner in the country, and it can boost deployment immensely by actively reducing barriers to deployment on public lands and in government-owned buildings. In January, President Trump issued an Executive Order and Presidential Memo to make federal assets available to support rural broadband deployment, and to streamline federal permitting processes by developing uniform agency applications and contract forms.

Security and Standards

As we move aggressively to stand up 5G networks across the country, we must be equally aggressive in our efforts to secure them. The President has made clear that secure 5G is a vital part of the administration’s National Security Strategy.

Once these networks are active, it’s hard to think of a sector of our economy that won’t depend on them. We cannot afford to put security on the backburner – we have to plan for security from the outset.

There is no question the federal government has a vested interest in 5G networks being made secure. Having said that, I believe the most effective 5G security strategy will revolve principally around industry-driven standards work. But these standards will need to take into account government requirements or considerations where appropriate.

As a government, we are looking to collaborate broadly with industry to assess and identify gaps and opportunities in the development of global standards. We want to work with industry on a strategy to ensure U.S. interests are being adequately represented and our ideas advanced as effectively as possible across the standards landscape.

That means the entire landscape. In addition to the traditional commercial wireless standards bodies we immediately think of such as 3GPP, we need to be engaged with standards initiatives related to the Internet of Things, connected automobiles, and other emerging technologies that will influence the 5G environment.

Just as global standards are important, so too are global spectrum allocations. This is particularly the case right now with the ITU’s World Radio Conference quickly approaching. WRC-19 will tee up a number of spectrum bands for IMT or advanced mobile services, as well as other important spectrum uses including by governments.

And anytime I talk about the ITU, I also want to talk about the opportunity our country has to gain an important advocate for advancing global connectivity in the ITU’s leadership. Doreen Bogdan-Martin is running to become director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau. I can’t think of anyone more qualified for this leadership position. While at NTIA, Doreen championed our pro-growth and pro-competition satellite policy, leading to the privatization of first Inmarsat, then Intelsat. If elected, Doreen would not only be the first American but also the first woman on the ITU’s elected executive team.

As we see here today, there is a clear alignment between government and industry on both where we need to go, and how we’re going to get there. And there are many opportunities to work together – as one example, today NTIA announced that we are seeking applications from those interested in serving on our Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee. I encourage you to consider joining CSMAC and help us shape NTIA’s approach to spectrum policy. Through our combined efforts, we can make our vision of 5G a reality – and we will see a safer, more productive and more connected America. Thank you for your time.