It is increasingly clear that the U.S. is facing an imminent shortfall of licensed spectrum. If left unchecked, such a shortfall could undermine American leadership in the wireless landscape and deprive Americans of many benefits they have come to know and enjoy. A new report reveals just how big of an impact failing to resolve this issue could have on the American economy.

Published by information technology company Accenture, the report predicts that allocating internationally harmonized (Internationally agreed upon allocations) mid-band spectrum for 5G could unlock more than $200 billion for the U.S. economy over the next ten years. That includes $23-44 billion in expected cost savings in higher-quality wireless technologies and another $125-155 billion in economic benefits from industry innovation and job creation. Unfortunately, American consumers and businesses stand to lose out on these benefits if the U.S. fails to act quickly to harmonize its approach and develop a robust spectrum pipeline that contains ample amounts of licensed mid-band spectrum.

Over the last few years, it has become increasingly apparent that robust demand for licensed mid-band spectrum may soon outstrip supply. The band’s unique mix of properties, such as speed and geographic coverage, makes it perfect for 5G and future 6G networks and the wide range of market innovations they make possible. Unsurprisingly, a hunger for faster speed, performance, and improved device capabilities by consumers and businesses is pushing network capacity to the breaking point. A recent report found that U.S. wireless data traffic increased by as much as 38 percent between 2021 and 2022 alone and is expected to continue. The Brattle Group now estimates that by 2027, the U.S. will have a spectrum deficit of nearly 400 Megahertz (MHz), which will triple to 1400 MHz by 2032.

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Nate Scherer is a policy analyst with the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit us at www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on X @ConsumerPal.