The Federal Communications Commission will vote this summer to consider making more mid-band spectrum available to commercial wireless providers, Chairman Ajit Pai announced Wednesday.
Pai, who spoke at the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s Connectivity Expo in Charlotte, N.C., said he intends to offer a proposal for spectrum between 3.7 GHz and 4.2 GHz, or the C-Band, at the FCC’s July meeting.
The measure, he said, would include “seeking additional input on making it available for commercial terrestrial use.”
Pai said the additional spectrum would complement high-band auctions in the 28 GHz and 24 GHz bands later this year, as well as a vote at the FCC’s June meeting to enable “flexible wireless use” of the 26 GHz and 42 GHz bands.
“Physical networks won’t matter much if we don’t have spectrum to devote to 5G,” Pai told the audience of primarily infrastructure companies. “Spectrum is critical to the wireless speed breakthroughs that 5G promises.”
Pai began his remarks by highlighting the commission’s work on infrastructure regulations — particularly with regard to small cells — and echoed comments from fellow commissioner Michael O’Rielly that the FCC was preparing to address state and local zoning regulations that operators consider too burdensome and costly.
O’Rielly told the WIA event Tuesday that he backed a more “aggressive” approach for communities he considered to be “bad actors.” Pai, however, vowed to strike a balance between the need for regulatory reform and “the legitimate interests of states and localities.”
“In short, it’s important that we strike the right balance here,” Pai said. “I look forward to receiving Commissioner [Brendan] Carr’s recommendations on how we should do that.”