U.S. House technology panel heads seeks delay in 5G spectrum auction

FILE PHOTO: Visitors use their mobiles phones as they stand next to a 5G Led Smart Bulb panel inside the Xiaomi booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leaders of a U.S. House of Representatives committee on Wednesday asked the Federal Communications Commission to delay a radio frequency spectrum auction for next-generation 5G wireless communications, which is scheduled for Thursday.

The Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Democratic chairwoman, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and its top Republican, Frank Lucas, cited concerns that the spectrum under consideration could interfere with signals for sensors related to weather and climate forecasting, and said such interference could impact public safety.

Johnson and Lucas urged the regulatory agency to delay the spectrum auction until it properly addresses the concerns of relevant agencies and departments: the Pentagon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

“Our concern is not with 5G technology. ... However, advancements in telecommunications should not come at the expense of the safety and security of the American people,” the two wrote in a letter to the members of the FCC.

Representatives for NASA, NOAA and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The FCC launched the agency’s first high-band spectrum auction for 5G in November. 5G networks are expected to be at least 100 times faster than the current 4G networks, cut delays and allow for innovations in a number of fields.

Reporting by Makini Brice; additional reporting by Idrees Ali and David Shepardson; editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis