Securing America's Future Energy

Issue Brief: To Save Lives and Challenge China’s 5G Ambitions, the FCC Must Get More Broadband Spectrum in the Hands of Mobile Carriers

Contact: Alex Adams | 202.461.2374 |

Washington, D.C.—To capture the significant safety and economic benefits of high-speed fifth-generation (5G) wireless coverage, an Issue Brief from Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) concludes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should ensure mobile carriers have access to wireless broadband in the mid-band spectrums as an urgent nationwide priority.

These higher spectrums, the Brief explains, ensure greater connectivity over longer distances compared to the millimeter-wave alternatives currently being trialed in selected urban centers. The mid- and high-band spectrums will allow connectivity in suburban, exurban and rural areas—providing nationwide connectivity as a result. In turn, this connectivity will allow for greater communication between vehicles, infrastructure, and mobile devices, improving traffic congestion and saving lives.

“Our current transportation system is not only inefficient, but not as safe as it can be. There have been more than 40,000 deaths on U.S. roadways every year, for the last three years in a row. Accepting this status quo is completely indefensible, and we must expedite the lifesaving potential that 5G connectivity will bring,” said Robbie Diamond, President and CEO of SAFE.

5G is the latest iteration of enhanced mobile broadband that delivers internet speeds that are 10- to 100-times faster than the current 4G system—enhancing internet-enabled technology that is expected to create economic value worth over $11 trillion by 2025. Leadership on this crucial technology would place the United States at a significant strategic advantage over its rivals for decades to come. However, the U.S. risks falling behind as China is currently pursuing an aggressive $400 billion 5G program, chiefly through state-supported Huawei Technologies.

“Technological superiority has long been a cornerstone of American prosperity. For the United States to maintain its status as the world’s leading economy, it must not cede global 5G leadership to a key strategic adversary,” Diamond added.

SAFE’s analysis found:

  • The United States lags behind China in deploying 5G. Since 2015, China has deployed 12 connected sites for every one site in the United States. The Chinese government’s $400 billion investment in 5G and the growing international influence of its state-supported telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. mean the United States risks ceding global leadership to a strategic adversary on crucial technology that will help shape the global economy.
  • U.S. 5G deployment requires as much as $275 billion in cumulative telecommunications industry investment through 2024. In contrast to China’s government-directed approach, the expansion of 5G in the United States will be commercially-driven. The FCC’s 5G FAST Plan identifies spectrum access, private investment, and infrastructure as the key challenges to 5G deployment in the United States.
  • U.S. carriers will need more access to mid-band portions of the electromagnetic spectrum to achieve expansive 5G coverage, especially if 5G’s transportation benefits are to be fully realized. The FCC should prioritize wireless broadband in these frequencies to get more spectrum in the hands of mobile carriers.
  • The United States needs a robust, differentiated, and competitive wireless communications market that has the capacity to make scalable investments in 5G. FCC approval of the Sprint-T-Mobile merger would be a positive development to achieve this outcome.

The full report can be found here


About Securing America’s Future Energy

Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Near-total dependence on petroleum in the transportation sector undermines the nation’s economic and national security, and constrains U.S. foreign policy. To combat these threats, SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and transportation sector innovations including electric vehicles, natural gas trucks, and autonomous vehicles. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. Today, the ESLC is co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith and General James T. Conway (Ret), 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.


1111 19th Street, NW #406, Washington, DC 20036