Ten years ago this week, Apple launched its App Store. Five hundred apps were initially available and in the first weekend alone, consumers downloaded them 10 million times. Today, there are millions of apps available, across every operating system and device. The app revolution created entirely new markets and services that have changed how we find transportation, track our health and wellness, and stay connected to friends and family.
In 2008, few would have predicted the ways that smartphones would become integrated into our daily lives. Now, the next generation of wireless networks is poised to unleash even greater innovation. Ericsson’s most recent “Mobility Report” estimates that by the end of 2023, there will be 1 billion 5G subscriptions and 3.5 billion Internet of Things connections. That connectivity will create new opportunities beyond what we can even imagine today. And, there is important work happening today to lay the groundwork for the possibilities next generation wireless will offer tomorrow.
Realizing all the opportunities of our 5G future will require the right spectrum in low, mid, and high bands. The FCC is tackling a critical piece of that puzzle today, by taking steps to make more mid-band spectrum available for mobile broadband. Mid-band spectrum is important because the frequencies can provide coverage and carry high-capacity services. These characteristics make mid-band spectrum ideal for more efficient small cell deployment that carriers will use to roll out 5G.
The U.S. isn’t the only country that sees the attraction of mid-band spectrum. Our global competitors in Europe and Asia are moving towards auctions of these same frequencies. Being at the front of the international pack will pay big dividends, as we saw with U.S. leadership in 4G. U.S. companies run the operating systems on nine out of 10 smartphones worldwide and ACT, the App Association, estimates that over 4.7 million Americans are employed in the app economy. We can’t afford to delay on mid-band spectrum where the rest of the world is looking to deploy 5G.
Repurposing mid-band spectrum will help us make the next leap forward in wireless. Coupled with the work the FCC has already done to free up low band spectrum and the millimeter wave spectrum slated to be auction this fall, today’s NPRM is important progress. Mobile Future urges the FCC to seize this momentum and move forward with more of the spectrum we need for 5G, like the 3.5 GHz. We may not have imagined yet what the game-changing innovation powered by 5G will be, but we can lay the groundwork so that future is possible.