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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at NTIA’s 2020 Spectrum Policy Symposium: Spectrum Sharing for the Next Decade


Thank you, Charles, for that kind introduction and for your leadership with the NTIA team organizing the third Spectrum Policy Symposium. And a warm welcome to everyone joining us virtually today. My thanks also to Dr. Kelvin K. Droegemeier, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Adam Candeub, who will be sharing their expertise later in the program.

When I last spoke here two years ago, the environment was quite different. Homes were not workplaces, schools, and doctor’s offices. But despite the challenges we experienced this year as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, the Trump Administration’s commitment to keep America’s high technology the most advanced and competitive in the world has remained steadfast.

And as we advance through economic recovery, so does the nation’s newly open ravenous appetite for spectrum and innovative telecommunication services. Spectrum is the fuel that is powering the growth of America's telecom industries, from 5G wireless communications, to unmanned aviation systems, to the launching of next-generation satellite communications networks. The wireless industry supports over 4.7 million jobs and contributes roughly $475 billion annually to the American economy. So today, I will discuss three major Administration priorities that remain paramount to its advancement:

First, we are dedicated to winning the race to widespread deployment of 5G networks and high-bandwidth services. These networks are game changers, providing the catalyst for exponential economic growth in every economic sector and field touched by the Internet. A February 2020 study by ACT: The App Association revealed that deploying 5G across the country by 2025 will contribute approximately $900 billion annually directly to U.S. GDP.

In President Trump’s first term, we have successfully leveraged the increasing availability of spectrum resources to grow the economy and add high-skill jobs. The United States has made a licensed a total of 6,290 megahertz of licensed, low- and mid-band spectrum available for advanced wireless services, including 5G. Since January 2018, we have auctioned a world-leading 4,950 megahertz of high-band spectrum in three auctions that will turbocharge a wide range of 5G applications. And on August 25th this year, the FCC concluded one of the first of several planned 5G mid band spectrum auctions, for 70 megahertz of the making an additional 150 megahertz now available in the 3.55-3.7 GHz band.

Moreover, in March through August this year, we announced 380 megahertz in the 3.7-3.98 GHz and 3.45-3.55 GHz bands will be available for 5G services. We’ve also made more than 1,889 megahertz of low- and mid-band spectrum available for unlicensed purposes, including an additional 1,200 megahertz this past spring for “super WiFi” uses. So you see, we are working hard to meet the demand from carriers seeking more spectrum for licensed and unlicensed networks and services.

And as a result, the U.S. wireless industry has rolled out 5G services in 7,500 cities and is offering coverage potentially to nearly 250 million people. The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association now projects that U.S. operators will reach more than 67 percent of Americans with 5G connectivity by the end of 2020, including many in rural communities.

Another important achievement for the United States took place at last November’s World Radio Communications Conference in Egypt, where NTIA provided critical support to our U.S. delegation and secured important agreements on 5G allocations in the “millimeter wave” spectrum. This extremely high frequency will be used over wireless communications to deliver faster and higher quality video, along with multimedia content and services.

Our second national priority is to remain focused on building and accelerating American predominance in space commerce — a sector that we pioneered and must always lead. Spectrum is a critical component of the satellites operated and used by the federal government for national security, for air traffic control, and for weather forecasting. And I am pleased that at the last World Radio Conference, representatives from the U.S. Government and the U.S. satellite industry achieved success with new rules for sharing between geostationary and non-geostationary satellites in the V-Band.

We also recorded important accomplishments in streamlining the international approval process for mega-constellation networked satellites. The future of space is overwhelmingly commercial in nature. And as such, the days of dominance by government agencies and priorities over space exploration and commerce, are mostly are for the most part, behind us. Over 80 percent of the $415 billion space economy is commercial. The American space launch industry generates $1.7 billion in revenue, solidifying U.S. leadership in this growing market area.

In the past 10 years, more than 25.7 billion has been invested in 535 space companies globally. $5.8 billion was invested in 2019 alone – the largest investment year ever. Current industry projections place the 2040 global space economy at between $1 and $3 trillion. We are dedicated to meeting the challenges of competing demands for spectrum in this sector by increasing spectrum sharing and improving spectrum efficiency; And will continue our support for global harmonization of the radio frequency spectrum for space-related activities.

And finally, turning now to our third national spectrum priority, we are working is to ensure the security and integrity of U.S. networks and infrastructure, both in the private sector and throughout government.  Malign behavior by China and other nations pose high-stakes challenges to our economic and technological leadership in the world, and therefore to our national security and well-being. China has shown its willingness to use its state-owned “flagship” companies to undercut competition and assert itself in equipment markets around the world.

The Trump Administration is taking bold action to protect our national security and the emerging and foundational technologies that are essential to maintaining U.S. global leadership. Investing in innovative capabilities like 5G networks, next-generation satellite constellations, and technical research are just a few examples of how we are securing our supply chains for high-tech products and network equipment.

In addition, last month, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry Security added 38 new Huawei affiliates to the Entity List, further protecting U.S. technology from annexation by those whose interests run contrary to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. And the rest of the world is following beginning to follow our lead. Our fellow democracies in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the U.K., Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Sweden have joined the United States in banning Huawei from their 5G networks, as their citizens awaken to the dangers of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state.

And now I am looking forward to today’s discussions as we take stock of our progress in spectrum policy improvements and as we look ahead to what we must do to ways to continue the momentum. Again, my thanks to all of you for attending this year’s Symposium, and please enjoy the rest of the webcast.