U.S. Sen. John N. Kennedy, R-Madisonville

With a friend in U.S. Sen. John Kennedy in charge of the Federal Communications Commission’s budget, taxpayers will never have to worry about the commission breaking the bank. Thanks to Kennedy’s leadership and dogged determination, the American people just nabbed $60 billion dollars in savings and a gumbo of good outcomes. Let me explain.

Everywhere you look these days, it’s hard to avoid news and ads about the global race to 5G — the next leap in wireless broadband (the lightning-speed internet expected to be at least 10 times faster than 4G). When 5G is ultimately deployed across mobile networks, American consumers will benefit not only from substantially faster wireless internet upload and download speeds, but also from improved communications due to dramatically decreased delay times and reduced latency. Realizing the full potential of 5G requires that the U.S. has enough available spectrum, the invisible radio frequencies that carry wireless signals, to support the future innovations 5G can deliver. Spectrum is not owned by any one person or company, but instead, is managed by the FCC for the benefit of the American public.

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Recently, Kennedy — chairman of the Senate Financial Services Subcommittee responsible for the FCC’s budget — went to great lengths to ensure that efforts by the FCC to make more spectrum available for 5G would not line the pockets of a select few satellite companies in a back-room deal. The lawmaker insisted that, instead, spectrum proceeds would benefit American taxpayers which includes Louisiana citizens.

At hearings, meetings with President Donald Trump, and in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Kennedy explained his reasoning for wanting the FCC to conduct a public auction, as has been the FCC’s practice for decades: “Our rural families stand to lose the most when only one or two giant corporations control all of the spectrum access. Competition is what makes America the great nation that it is today.”

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After being the subject of much deliberation among policymakers, the FCC announced on November 18 that C-band spectrum will be reallocated through a public auction, ensuring that the radio waves are not only reassigned in a timely manner, but also in a transparent, and competitive way that maximizes the amount of spectrum for 5G.

Kennedy’s push for a public auction is consistent with his values as a longtime champion for taxpayers and rural families. His leadership saved the American taxpayer up to $60 billion dollars. And, by fighting entrenched interests, ensured openness and transparency. The senator recognized a public auction would best position America to win the race to 5G, and the commitment from the FCC for a public auction is a win for Americans across the country.

Ross Marchand

director of policy, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Washington, D.C.