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GAO: FCC Needs Measurable Performance Goals to Manage Spectrum Demands for 5G

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) come up with measurable and specific performance goals and strategies to manage spectrum demands associated with the deployment of 5G networks.

GAO said in a report published Monday that the FCC needs those performance goals to help determine the potential effects of 5G on the "digital divide" or disparity in people's access to telecommunications services.

The congressional watchdog convened experts from industry, consumer groups and academia to discuss the challenges to fielding 5G networks. These professionals mentioned the need of the commercial sector for access to additional mid-band spectrum to avoid 5G deployment delays.

According to the report, mid-band spectrum offers higher data capacity and is better than high-band spectrum when it comes to penetrating physical barriers over long distances. However, the spectrum is highly congested and includes federal agencies as users that may not immediately transfer to new spectrum bands.

GAO also cited FCC’s need for strategic planning to help manage 5G-related spectrum demands. “Without such strategic planning efforts, FCC will be unable to determine the effectiveness of its spectrum management efforts, particularly related to the congested mid-band spectrum that is critical to 5G deployment."