Politico: Matsui unveils compromise attempt aimed at contentious 5G fight

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Washington, D.C., June 26, 2019 | comments

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) today released draft legislation aimed at moving satellite operators off of valuable 5G-friendly airwaves they currently occupy.

She's fashioning her WIN 5G Act, which she's teased for months, as a compromise addressing one of the most contentious 5G debates happening behind the scenes in Washington.

The satellite companies sitting on the spectrum want to privately sell these so-called “C-band” airwaves, potentially worth billions. Critics say an FCC-run auction, although likely slower, would be the better deal for the American taxpayer and could raise federal dollars for rural broadband.

Matsui, who co-chairs the Spectrum Caucus, in her draft bill proposes that the FCC indeed run an auction, but first have satellite operators craft a transition plan determining where in the U.S. these airwaves would be available after their sale and commit to ensuring that consumers who currently get TV programming or other services delivered over the C-band get comparable levels of service when the airwaves are repurposed for broadband.

Matsui's draft would set up a sliding scale for how much money satellite companies can recoup depending on how much spectrum is sold — none if less than 100 MHz but as much as all if 500 MHz gets auctioned. Some auction proceeds could go toward a government-run rural broadband fund, Matsui proposes. The companies have proposed clearing up to 200 MHz under their private sale plan, a swath that would net them under half of proceeds under Matsui’s plan.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has said he’s weighing all options.

To read the article, click here.

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