CTIA puts number on C-band lag: $50B over one year

Stressing the billions of dollars their member companies have invested in 5G equipment and technologies, a group of wireless industry trade associations sent a letter to the White House on Thursday insisting there be no further delays in C-band services beyond the January timeframe.

“The U.S. must be the international leader in 5G, and our member companies are working to make that happen,” they wrote. “But ad hoc wireless policymaking unsupported by facts challenges our nation’s ability to lead. Other countries, spectrum experts, and the FCC have concluded that access to C-band is imperative, and that aviation safety is not threatened. Further delays in the U.S. must be avoided, and the Administration should take whatever steps necessary to make sure the wireless companies’ January launch plans go forward.”

The letter is signed by the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), Consumer Technology Association, CTIA, Information Technology Information Council (ITI), NATE, SBE Council, TechNet, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), USTelecom, Wireless infrastructure Association (WIA) and 5G Americas.

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The groups cite a recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report showing 5G will be an economic multiplier for the nation that will bring 4.5 million new U.S. jobs and $1.5 trillion to the economy by 2030.

“But the success of our collective efforts and investments in 5G technologies hinge, in part, on the C-Band spectrum. That same BCG report concluded that every six-month delay in deployment could cost our nation $25 billion in economic benefits from these next-generation services. Delays in deploying C-band for 5G could have cascading effects for the companies we represent, causing manufacturing delays, stranding research and development investments, and potentially impacting our employees.”

$50B subtraction in economic growth 

In an opinion published today, CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker called out requests by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the aviation industry for further C-band assessments and said any further delay will cause real harm.

“Pushing back deployment one year would subtract $50 billion in economic growth, just as our nation recovers and rebuilds from the pandemic,” she wrote. “This effort to stop 5G … runs counter to the science as well as the collaborative interagency process that has been the bedrock of sound spectrum policy for many, many years.”

RELATED: What do FAA C-band delays mean for AT&T, Verizon?

In some other countries, their 5G signals operate in spectrum adjacent to aviation equipment, and U.S. airlines fly in and out of these countries every day, Baker wrote. “If interference were possible, we would have seen it long before now. Nevertheless, we’ve added a layer of protection in the United States, called a guard band, that is hundreds of times greater than the separation that exists between wireless and other critical spectrum users.”

The FAA and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this month said they were continuing to coordinate to ensure the U.S. keeps pace with the rest of the world in 5G while maintaining airline safety. Indeed, AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay their much anticipated C-band launches by a month – to January 5, 2022 – to allow additional time for air safety review.

RELATED: FAA issues warning on potential safety risks from 5G C-band

However, since then, the aviation community sent a letter to the White House asking for an indefinite amount of time to address their concerns about the launch of C-band spectrum. They asked that a joint industry work group be convened and they want a continued delay in the deployment of 5G in the C-band “until the safety and efficiency” of the nation’s airspace system is ensured.

Earlier this week, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said U.S. aviation regulators were having “very productive discussions” with the FCC and telecom industry officials over concerns about 5G, according to a Bloomberg report.