Statement on the Need to Reauthorize the FCC’s Spectrum Authority

Internet Public Policy Issues - The American Consumer Institute

The American Consumer Institute is concerned to learn that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will soon lose its spectrum authorization authority if Congressional action is not taken before September 30th. We strongly urge Congress to reauthorize the FCC’s short-term auction authority so that future spectrum auctions for commercial stakeholders may continue to be held.

Since its establishment as the world’s first spectrum auction authority in 1993, the FCC has collected nearly $230 billion in revenue for the Department of the Treasury. Just last year, an FCC C-band auction collected over $81 billion. The funds generated from these auctions are used to offset public debt and pay for a variety of important public projects such as FirstNet emergency communication networks.

Consumers also benefit from greater investment in wireless networks. These networks provide faster internet speeds at a lower cost to consumers. For instance, ACI’s report found that 5G services would provide consumers $1.8 trillion in benefits. In addition, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association estimates that 5G technologies could save consumers $305 billion annually in healthcare costs alone. A 2021 report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that the internet economy “now accounts for 12 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)” and is responsible for over 17 million jobs.

The FCC must be permitted to continue auctioning and licensing spectrum. This will allow for the full rollout of 5G infrastructure and encourage innovation in apps and services that consumers demand. Failure to do so will keep these customer benefits on hold and allow foreign competitors like China the opportunity to overtake the U.S. in wireless technology.

The American Consumer Institute strongly encourages Congress to work quickly to extend the FCC’s auction authority.

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