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Google is trying to stop a private sale of 5G spectrum

Google wants the 5G spectrum to instead be sold through the customary FCC channels.

Published onFebruary 14, 2019

  • An alliance of satellite companies wants to conduct a private sale of 5G spectrum.
  • However, Google and a few other organizations don’t want to see important 5G spectrum auctioned privately.
  • The matter will likely end up in court.

The C-Band Alliance — a collective made up of four satellite companies — is trying to sell some of its wireless spectrum, which could be used for 5G connections. However, the C-Band Alliance is looking to make the sale private, something other organizations — including Google — don’t want to happen (via The Information)

Traditionally, spectrum sales like this are performed by the Federal Communications Commission, with part of the profits from the sale going to the U.S. Treasury. Thus, the C-Band Alliance knows it could potentially make more money from making the sale private.

However, an unregulated private spectrum sale could result in one company buying up all the spectrum which could tip the market into the favor of that one company. Google, Charter Communications, and other telecommunications groups oppose the private sale — and are ready to go to court over the opposition.

With the importance of 5G spectrum becoming ever more apparent as we get closer to its eventual rollout, Google and the other opposers believe a private spectrum sale puts too much power into unregulated hands.

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Companies that license spectrum shouldn’t have “the ability to hold the FCC hostage essentially in order reallocate spectrum for a higher and better use,” said Staci Pies, a senior policy counsel at Google.

“We think that an FCC auction is really the fastest, fairest, most efficient way to get spectrum out and make it available to all different kinds of players, including Charter,” said Colleen King, vice president of regulatory affairs for Charter Communications, adding, “We don’t think backroom deals by four private companies allows that.”

Meanwhile, a lobbyist for the C-Band Alliance brushes the oppositions aside, proclaiming that companies like Charter don’t want to see the private sale happen because it knows 5G service is a threat to its cable business.

Analysts expect the matter to go to court eventually. It’s likely that the courts would side with the opinion of the FCC, which would likely fall on the side of having a traditional, government-regulated auction for the spectrum.

NEXT: Why I hope AT&T loses the 5G E lawsuit

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