Georgia’s congressional delegation demonstrated very little interest in H.R. 4855, the Clearing Broad Airwaves for New Deployment Act, a bill that would have cleared and made available for auction between 200 and 300 mega hertz of spectrum in the C-Band. The C-Band is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum falling between four to eight gigahertz. This portion of spectrum is used for satellite communications, some Wi-Fi devices, some cordless phones, and for surveillance and weather radar systems.
Some companies that offer wireless broadband internet access are interested in this piece of spectrum real estate in order to meet the increasing demand for “Internet of Things” services and the Fifth Generation wireless platforms they are expected to ride on.
H.R. 4855 may have been more of a prodding rod than a leading initiative. Back in June the Federal Communications Commission announced that repurposing of the C-Band would move at an accelerated pace. Five eligible satellite carriers: Eutelstat, Intelstat, SES, Star One, and Telesat, agreed to an accelerated schedule for clearing and relocating frequencies in exchange for $9.7 billion in relocation payments upon completion of the reallocation. Clearing out and relocating their frequencies make available mid-band spectrum for wireless company use.
While H.R. 4855 would give the Commission until 30 September 2022 to clear, reallocate, and auction the C-Band spectrum, the Commission’s order would give satellite operators until 5 December 2023 to clear and relocate their operating frequencies.
While Georgia has its urban centers i.e. Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus, Augusta, it still has a significant agricultural base and rural communities. The current COVID-19 pandemic has exposed flaws and gaps in service delivery and has likely widened the gap between broadband urban haves and rural broadband have-nots. Congressmen from Georgia’s rural areas should remain mindful of this gap and take every opportunity to lead on congressional initiatives that could spurn broadband deployment in rural Georgia.
For example, H.R. 4855 had only three sponsors. None were from Georgia. In addition, a scan of the internet found no media coverage containing any discussion about the C-band by any members of Georgia’s congressional delegation. Georgia’s congressional delegation should remain engaged in discussions about the benefits advanced communications can bring to taxpayers and Georgia’s industries.