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The FCC just guaranteed U.S. leadership for 5G, and then some

As you see “trainers” running around parks and city streets capturing Pokemon Go on their mobile phones, remind yourself of the amazing technologies at work enabling this augmented reality game that is sweeping the nation. They are possible because of the vast amounts of computing power in our hands and the wireless connections carrying significant amounts of data to the internet over wireless networks that are becoming increasingly strained due to a finite resource: spectrum.

Spectrum is the term used to describe the radio frequencies that all wireless communications use. We are in an era where more and more devices are relying on wireless connections, and not just for entertainment like Pokemon Go, but to provide lifesaving services, to create more efficient and livable cities, and to enable increased production on our farms and in our factories.

That is why today’s vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make fifth generation (5G) wireless networks a reality is a historic one, and one that will cement U.S. leadership in 5G connectivity and next generation WiFi technology commonly known as WiGig. With the order adopted today by the FCC, the United States is the first country in the world to lay out a roadmap for 5G spectrum. Furthermore, the FCC adopted a further notice of proposed rulemaking to identify additional spectrum bands for 5G and next-generation wireless technology. This puts the United States well ahead of foreign counterparts by allowing American entrepreneurs and consumers to be the first in the world to have the tools needed to innovate in the new era of the of the internet: the Internet of Things (IoT). To truly harness the power and societal benefits of the IoT, we will need to have a vast amount of spectrum at our disposal. 5G and WiGig can carry substantial amounts of data and transfer signals with very little delay, along with providing many other features previous wireless technologies could not provide.

It is an exciting time for the technology industry as we endeavor to shape a new world of connected cities, devices, and appliances. No longer will accessing the internet be limited to phones, tablets, and traditional computing equipment. Cars, buildings, infrastructure like highways and bridges, industrial systems, streetlights, and countless other objects will be using wireless connections to transfer data as well. To accommodate the 30 billion devices that will be connected to the internet by 2020, and fully realize the $11.1 trillion boost to the economy that the IoT will bring, we need to build on current wireless technologies by adopting policies like the 5G initiative that will spur investment in next generation wireless technologies.

The range of applications of this next phase of the internet is limitless and the economic and societal benefits could literally save lives. Fifth generation wireless technology will not just increase mobile phone speeds 10 fold, it will allow cities will evolve into smart cities, provide public safety officials new capabilities for accident and disaster response, and allow autonomous and connected vehicle technology to further flourish.

That is why ITI strongly supports the FCC’s order and further rulemaking to free up wireless spectrum that will be used to propel 5G, WiGig, and other innovative, next generation wireless technologies. These networks have the potential to enhance our lives in unimaginable ways. As we move forward, we stand ready to work with the FCC on developing the best policy to promote innovation and growth, and ensure U.S. leadership in in this space for years to come.

Public Policy Tags: Broadband, Communications, & Spectrum, Internet of Things