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Implementing the National Spectrum Strategy

CTIA 5G Summit
Remarks of Alan Davidson
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Washington, DC
May 6, 2024

As prepared for delivery

Thank you, Meredith. It is terrific to be here and join you to share NTIA’s views on the importance of spectrum and the future of the wireless industry.

To start, the U.S. is in an era of high-stakes technology development. From artificial intelligence to semiconductor manufacturing, whoever leads in innovation will lead the world in economic growth and national security.

The Biden-Harris Administration is answering the call to maintain our global competitiveness. The Administration is taking a comprehensive approach to advancing network infrastructure through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, NTIA’s Wireless Innovation Fund (established under that Act), and other federal grant programs.  

Internationally, we are working to promote a secure, dynamic, and scalable 5G ecosystem, including by pursuing greater harmonization of key 5G bands.  

And last fall, the Administration issued the National Spectrum Strategy – a blueprint to help meet our nation’s spectrum needs, harness innovation, and build economic and national security for years to come.

Today, I want to share how we are working to achieve the goals of the four pillars of the Strategy. I will also discuss how our international work complements the Strategy. Finally, I’ll share some details on our efforts to secure wireless supply chains at home and abroad.

When it comes to the wireless space, the U.S. has always been the leader. We need clear and bold spectrum policies to stay that way. I am proud to say our National Spectrum Strategy delivers those policies.

The starting point – our first pillar - is building a spectrum pipeline so that wireless providers, users, and others have the tools they need to compete and innovate.

To accomplish this, the Strategy calls for near-term, in-depth study of spectrum bands, including key mid-band spectrum in the Lower 3 GHz and 7/8 GHz ranges.

We are already hard at work on those study efforts:

  • We are establishing Spectrum Study Groups, which will govern and oversee the groups that will conduct the technical work.  
  • The involved federal agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD), are seeking funding for the studies from the Spectrum Relocation Fund.  
  • Commercial, and other non-federal stakeholder engagement will be welcomed in this process. More information on this is coming soon.

The Strategy also calls for stronger coordination among all spectrum stakeholders going forward – not just for these key spectrum studies, but across all future decision-making involving federal and non-federal spectrum use. This is the often unglamorous work that actually makes a huge difference over time.

This effort to entrench coordination and long-term planning builds on the spirit generated by the NTIA-FCC MOU update and the joint coordination initiative FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and I began over two years ago.

NTIA already has begun exploring how existing groups and structures– particularly the Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee (CSMAC) – can be empowered and leveraged to enhance the coordination framework envisioned in the Strategy.

The third pillar of the Strategy calls for the development of new and innovative spectrum-based technologies, including Dynamic Spectrum Sharing. We need to make better use of the airwaves we have – and technology will help.  

As many of you know, DOD is starting a project to demonstrate potential Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, or DSS, solutions that could enable sharing in the Lower 3 GHz band. While we hope this effort will inform spectrum sharing in the future for this band and others, I want to emphasize it is separate from the Lower 3 GHz technical study under Pillar 1 of the Strategy. The Strategy calls for both that study and for the establishment of a national DSS testbed.

The federal government will also develop recommendations for a common platform for spectrum sharing among federal users, and between federal and non-federal users. This common platform could include the concept of the Incumbent Informing Capability (IIC), which would lead to more automated and dynamic sharing.

Meanwhile, work already has begun to develop a National Spectrum R&D Plan.  This effort is led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  NTIA and other federal agencies, including in particular the National Science Foundation (NSF), are actively supporting this work. This plan will be informed by input from federal and non-federal stakeholders and will be coordinated through the newly chartered Interagency Spectrum Advisory Council or ISAC.

The fourth and final pillar of the National Spectrum Strategy calls for the creation of a national spectrum workforce plan to grow the ecosystem of spectrum experts.  

Like the workforce surge needed for cybersecurity and AI, this plan reflects the nation’s need to grow the ranks of spectrum technologists that America needs to address the critical tech issues of the future.

We want to develop the spectrum “community” itself as a crucial resource for American innovation. With active participation from across the U.S. Government, NTIA and NSF will lead work on the creation of a National Spectrum Workforce Plan.  

This plan will be complemented by applying best practices to individual federal government agencies’ own recruitment and training programs. This will allow the government to work in tandem with academia and industry to develop a coherent approach. We will also redouble our efforts, working with the FCC and others, to make sure that legislators and policymakers are up to speed on the information they need to make technical and policy decisions related to spectrum allocations and technologies.

The work to advance spectrum policy does not stop at our borders. Internationally, we have focused on harmonization of spectrum allocations.

At WRC-23, ITU Region Two, the Americas, identified parts of the 3 GHz band for 5G services. As you know, in the U.S. and other countries, there are critical government systems that require careful consideration and protection in 3 GHz.  

Still, this identification will enable governments to introduce 5G in portions of the band – and will help many of you reach the scale you need to deploy your networks efficiently. And, again, with the National Spectrum Strategy, we are assessing if more of the 3 GHz range could be made available in the United States.  The 7/8 GHz band also has been teed up internationally for study, in tandem with our effort to study it domestically.

Let me turn now to supply chains, where NTIA has been hard at work advancing trusted, open and interoperable networks both at home and abroad.

This work is critical because we are in the midst of a global battle over the future of wireless networks.

5G is a dynamic technology, but today’s market for wireless equipment is static and highly consolidated. Just a few firms today provide the full set of radios and supporting components that power mobile networks. And some of those equipment vendors pose national security risks to the U.S. and to our allies around the world.  

In particular, we know the Chinese government invests heavily in 5G infrastructure both domestically and abroad to promote its industry champions, Huawei and ZTE. Through its foreign aid practices, the People’s Republic of China works to extend its influence by offering financing and other incentives to build 5G networks for partner countries. That creates dependencies and expands the PRC’s technological footprint.  

We have engaged partners around the world to promote trusted alternatives to Huawei and ZTE.  

NTIA has been a champion for industry’s development of Open RAN to allow for flexibility across networks, promote competition in the vendor ecosystem, and to help drive down costs.

I'm thrilled to share that our Institute for Telecommunication Sciences is planning an inaugural International Open RAN Symposium, this September, in Boulder. The Symposium will bring together a diverse set of international stakeholders to foster discussion and collaboration in Open RAN testing.  

This complements our work on the 2023 5G Challenge and the $1.5 billion Wireless Innovation Fund. The 5G Challenge promoted open interfaces, interoperable subsystems, secure networks and multi-vendor solutions by awarding almost $7 million in grants. NTIA has also awarded $140 million to 17 projects from the Innovation Fund to support open and interoperable wireless networks. We will have more to share soon on the next steps for that fund.

As we work to strengthen our supply chain, we can't forget that insecure equipment remains embedded in our networks today. That is why it is critical that we secure additional funding to finish the job on rip and replace.

I have shared a lot about what NTIA is doing in the wireless and spectrum space. But to achieve these ambitious goals, we need your help.

NTIA needs the help of industry and government leaders to maintain the momentum of the National Spectrum Strategy.

We need continued engagement from spectrum stakeholders, from the diverse set of industries that rely on spectrum, from academics who study spectrum, and from federal agency leaders.    

The U.S. is in the midst of an intense competition for global leadership in wireless technologies. We need to be smart, we need to be strategic, we need to be collaborative. And we need to be evidence-based.

And, importantly, we need the help of Congress. We need spectrum auction authority restored by Congress. 

What we have been seeing and hearing from the Hill in recent weeks are steps in the right direction – and I hope we can all work together to reach a solution. We believe that legislation can be crafted that is consistent with our National Spectrum Strategy and advances our shared agenda. These are efforts to sustain the lifeblood of your networks, and to expand access to an input that is vital to the long-term success of this industry. So where you have disagreements, just remember: It would be a mistake to let the perfect be the enemy of the very good.


In closing, the Biden-Harris Administration has implemented an ambitious, long-term agenda for spectrum policy change and advanced spectrum management. We all have our work cut out for us.  

This agenda, as embodied in the National Spectrum Strategy, has never lost sight of its core goal: To make sure there are sufficient spectrum resources to fuel American innovation and global competitiveness, in order to meet the needs of both the private and public sector. It is essential to our economic and national security.

The U.S. wireless industry is at the center of this vision. Thank you for your leadership, and your partnership, as we work to pursue this vision together.

Thank you.