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Clearing C-Band spectrum quickly for 5G could cost $14.7bn

The USA’s spectral disadvantage in 5G has pushed usually abstruse elements of telecoms policy even onto the president’s agenda. While most of the world has plentiful spectrum in 3.5 GHz earmarked for first-wave 5G, this band is occupied in the USA by federal agencies and satellite providers. This limits the US operators to using millimeter wave spectrum with its enormous coverage challenges; refarming legacy bands; or rolling out a coverage-focused network in sub-GHz spectrum, with little visible increase in speed over 4G. Of course, part of the spectrum around 3.5 GHz has been brought into mobile usage via the CBRS scheme, which allows for sharing with federal incumbents. Unlicensed services are starting now and auctions will be held for the…

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