Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) was back home in Sioux Falls, S.D., Friday (Nov. 1) to help christen the rollout of Verizon's 5G service there.
Thune, chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee and former chair of the full Commerce Committee, used the opportunity praise Verizon and also to urge Washington to remain focused on freeing up more midband spectrum for 5G.
FCC chair Ajit Pai has signaled he wants to vote on an item freeing up C-Band midband spectrum by the end of the year.
The senator thanked Verizon for its investment in the city and the 5G that will be transformational.
Verizon's 5G service will launch in Sioux Falls later this month, joining 19 other cities on the ultra-wideband network, said Craig Silliman, Verizon EVP, at a Sioux Falls kickoff event at which Thune spoke. Siliman called the launch "a big deal."
Siliman said 5G doesn't happen without good policy coming out of Washington. He praised Thune as a 5G advocate, including for streamlining infrastructure and freeing up spectrum. Thune backed the Mobile Now Act (freeing up spectrum) and is championing the Streamline Act (easing facilities deployments). Siliman also praised the city as perhaps the easiest municipal partner it has worked with to roll out 5G.
Thune added that the reason Sioux Falls was one of the the first 20 cities when some larger cities might have been more natural targets was the mayor's willingness to work with Verizon to get it done.
There was plenty of praise to go around. Thune also cited Pai for his role in the rollout of 5G. "I'm grateful to the leadership of the FCC. Ajit Pai has worked very hard as the chairman there, with his team of commissioners, to put the policies in place that mirror the things we are trying to do."
He said one of "the real keys" to getting full benefit out of the new technology is "getting initial midband spectrum." He said that is a "huge priority" and "something the policymakers in D.C. need to be really focused on right now."