Senator Ron Johnson to Commerce Department: It’s Time to Prioritize 5G

On June 24, Senator Ron Johnson sent a letter to Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, expressing his concern over the department’s rhetoric surrounding 5G.

“Unfortunately, I am concerned that agencies and individuals within your Department are undermining the President’s and Congress’ shared goals, ultimately jeopardizing our country’s economic and national security priorities,” he wrote.

The letter specifically addresses claims made by the two agencies within the Commerce Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Both agencies, along with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), claim that licensing the 24 GHz band would negatively impact weather forecasting — even though the FCC’s tests show it could be done safely without interference. The agencies didn’t share their concerns until shortly before the FCC’s scheduled auction of the band.

According to Senator Johnson, these efforts threaten “the clearly stated goals and priorities of the President and Congress and also undermines the NTIA’s mission to ‘expand the use of spectrum by all users.’”

He also expressed suspicion of their motives, writing that “these last minute objections come at a particularly sensitive time.”

In October, the United States will send representatives to the World Radiocommunications Conference, an event that occurs every few years and is attended by countries around the world. In Senator Johnson’s view, the dispute over 5G “this dispute weakens our country’s leverage and ability to further secure America’s leadership at this conference.”

He then included a list of questions and issues he’d like the Commerce Department to address by July 10, a month before government officials attend a WRC prep meeting for the Americas region.

His request includes a written explanation of the department’s intent, studies backing up their claims, and a written commitment to “support the U.S. winning the race to 5G through significantly expanding commercial wireless industry access to spectrum as the President has declared.”

Author: Bethany Patterson

Photo credit: John Sonderman (CC BY-NC 2.0)