Think the US is ahead in the ‘race’ to be 5G’s leading market?

Not everyone’s on board with that viewpoint, including Jessica Rosenworcel, one of five commissioners at US watchdog the FCC.

Her beef is that while there might be plenty of headline-grabbing trials and near-term 5G service launches planned by major US operators AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, countries in Europe and Asia are ahead in the process of licensing the so-called mid-band spectrum — between 3.3GHz and 4.2GHz – that is regarded as optimum for 5G mobile broadband services.

Rosenworcel tweeted: “The US is not leading in the race to bring 5G mid-band spectrum to market. South Korea and the UK held auctions this year. Spain is holding an auction right now. Italy will have an auction later this year. China has already cleared bands for use. The US is falling behind.”

Spectrum auctions are planned in the US for later this year, but that is for mmWave spectrum in the 24GHz and 28GHz bands. Further high-frequency mmWave airwave auctions are also planned for 2019 by the FCC, but while that spectrum will enable very high-speed connectivity, its coverage potential is limited. Mid-band spectrum is highly regarded as it can enable fast mobile broadband as well as offering decent coverage and while the FCC has this week unveiled plans to free up airwave capacity in the 3.7GHz and 4.2GHz bands, no timeline has been set for making it available to the network operators.

Reports that service providers and regulators in Europe and Asia were this morning sporting smug grins and slapping each others’ backs have not been confirmed.

For more detail on Rosenworcel’s angst, check out this story from our brethren site, Light Reading: FCC’s Rosenworcel: US ‘Falling Behind’ on 5G.

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