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White House directs task force to come up with 5G wireless strategy

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Photo: Paco Freire/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

President Trump on Thursday told the Commerce Department to help determine the future use of radio frequencies that power the mobile economy.

The big picture: Mobile carriers are getting ready to roll out 5G mobile service to consumers, putting pressure on policymakers to free up airwaves, or spectrum, for the super-fast, low-delay technology.

Details:

  • A new presidential memorandum asks the Secretary of Commerce to develop a "National Spectrum Strategy" and to report back every year.
  • The secretary will look at "how to improve spectrum management and assess research and development priorities to create new technologies and improve United States competitiveness," per a White House fact sheet. The memo also asks federal agencies to lay out their demands for airwaves.

An administration official indicated the teams behind the memo were embracing a private sector-focused approach, as opposed to a nationalization strategy advocated by some in the administration earlier this year. That plan met wide skepticism.

The FCC, which oversees commercial spectrum use, is gearing up to auction off airwaves later this fall and wants to free up others for 5G use. The task force created by the White House memo will coordinate with the FCC.

What they're saying: "A spectrum strategy will help create a roadmap for industry to better guide their business decisions," said Deputy Assistant to the President for Technology Policy Michael Kratsios in prepared remarks. "Additionally, it will provide clarity to federal agencies who rely on spectrum to carry out their mission."

Go deeper: Axios' deep dive on our 5G future

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