Shane Tews on Filling the Spectrum Pipeline


Shane Tews visits the High Tech Forum Podcast for episode 62 on 5G apps and their need for spectrum. We discuss the initial plan for 5G as an Internet of Things enabler and trace its development through video conferencing, fixed wireless access (FWA), machine-to-machine communication on factory floors, and drones.

Shane is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at American Enterprise Institute and an Internet policy analyst with a wide portfolio, encompassing security and governance in addition to broadband and spectrum policy. She’s a longtime friend of the podcast.


  • 5G has not developed according to plan, but it’s not far off. The initial idea was machine-to-machine communication, but this has taken a long time to develop because of spectrum shortages. This new app also requires new robots, new communication equipment, lots of software, and even new factories. This is starting to happen but still has a ways to go. Private 5G networks for each large factory are part of the formula. (1:01)
  •  FCC auction authority needs to be re-authorized so that a stable pipeline can be built. The pipeline itself is ideally coordinated among standards bodies, international regulators, chip companies, and software producers. Transferring spectrum from old to new users have proven to be much speedier and easier than imagined by PCAST and similar plans of 10 – 15 years ago. Getting governments and government agencies to cooperate is the harder problem. (16:46)
  • We need to do better at retiring obsolete technologies faster. This issue comes up because policy makers strive to create “forever” solutions while engineers are more interested in getting to the next generation of technology. It comes up in a number of places: obsolete altimeters on private aircraft, protocols insufficiently designed for replacement, and the inability of old radios to see new radio signals. (25:24)


  • 5G and the future 1:00
  • Machine-to-machine communication 1:32
  • Video conferencing ate the world 1:53
  • Challenges in factory automation 4:58
  • Will Elon Musk really buy Twitter? (No!) 7:52
  • Software updates in the middle of the night 9:10
  • Fixed Wireless Access is happening fast 12:41
  • FCC auction authority needs to be re-authorized 16:50
  • Building a pipeline is a group activity 17:21
  • Incumbents are an easy problem, government is a barrier 19:57
  • The PCAST spectrum report got everything wrong but demand 21:05
  • Ageing out obsolete tech 25:59
  • Starlink in Ukraine 33:45