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FCC Head Ajit Pai Calls Out NASA, Commerce Leads for Opposing 5G Program

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Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, criticized NASA and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in a recent letter to federal officials for opposing the proposed 5G network across the U.S., SpaceNews reported Friday.

Joint opposition by NTIA and the space agency to the FCC 5G proposal is “unacceptable,” Pai said in the letter, sent to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

The FCC wants to auction over 2,900 licenses in the 24.25 to 25.25 bands of the electromagnetic spectrum on March 14. Ross and Bridenstine previously said that the plan would have a negative impact on the transmission of critical Earth science data.

Meteorologists warned that they would lose access to some portions of the electromagnetic spectrum that supports tasks for Earth observation. Under the FCC plan, the same spectral bands and adjacent bands used by agencies for data sharing will be provided for 5G technologies, which experts said could lead to interference.

Ross and Bridenstine asked Pai to attend a March 11 interagency meeting to discuss the issues. However, Pai rejected the invitation in his recent letter. 

“Notwithstanding the absence of any technical basis for an objection over the past two years to the FCC’s well-established protection limits, NTIA declined to agree with the FCC’s balanced approach on this issue,” Pai wrote.

The FCC plans to present the Trump Administration’s plans to protect passive microwave services from interference at the 2019 World Radiocommunications Conference in Egypt starting in October.