OPINION: America Can’t Afford To Lose The Race For 5G

Demri Scott | Americans for Tax Reform

The U.S. won the global race to 4G, which facilitated the rise of ride sharing, online dating, and social media thanks to increased data speeds on cell phones. These new innovations brought a boost in our economy that increasedGDP by $100 billion annually. Now, we’re slated to revolutionize our lives with the advent of 5G, and we can’t afford to lose the race against our competitors.

The importance of technology to Americans is shown by the number of tech companies featured in commercials during the Super Bowl.

Bumble showed Serena Williams take initiative in dating. T-Mobile teamed up with another tech company, Lyft, and other non-traditional companies like Taco Bell to hilariously boost some new offers. Microsoft showed that its Xbox is designed for people of all abilities.

Companies like Verizon, shared touching moments of survivors and first responders reuniting. Google showed one commercial on how the Google Translate feature is connecting the world and another on how they are helping veterans find jobs. Turbotax had a commercial featuring a robot child who wants to learn how to do her taxes.

Even non-traditional tech companies had tech focused ads this year. In Audi’s take on tech, a man sees the light at the end of the tunnel, a sleek electric car, as he chokes on a cashew and receives the Heimlich maneuver.

Many of these innovations didn’t exist 17 years ago. Now you can catch a ride on your phone or meet a spouse online. This year’s tech heavy commercials made it clear that our reality is changing. We’re no longer dreaming about the future, we’re living in it.

But now we’re at another fork in the road with 5G that will bring even more innovations. 5G will see an explosion in development of Internet of Things technology such as telemedicine and automated vehicles because it is up to 100 times faster than 4G and can handle higher amounts of data with lower latency. Simply put, 5G will enable technology to positively change our lives if we let it.

There’s a lot at stake. If the U.S. gets the new technology first, 5G will create 3 million jobs and $500 billion in new economic growth. But 5G also requires the U.S. to rework regulatory requirements since small cells, which are about the size of a pizza box, are so different than previous generations which required cell towers. All of this means that the government’s outdated regulations, need to shift to better reflect the demands of 5G service in addition to the many more places where we can cut regulations to better connect all Americans.

The problem is that we aren’t the only team on the field that wants to get to more innovations faster. Countries like China desperately want to be the first to 5G after seeing the American successes brought by 4G. China has outspent the U.S. by $24 billion and built 350,000 new sites for their 5G network. Ultimately the U.S. needs to keep up the pace with global competitors to receive all of the benefits of getting 5G service.

Thankfully, the FCC is changing policies to help expand the capabilities of American innovation. In 2018, the commission paved the way for vital spectrum auctions and also cleared regulatory underbrush on the small cell approval process to ensure fast 5G deployment. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr even dubbed 2019 the year of 5G because of the commission’s long-term plan to help Americans achieve 5G service.

A lot has changed since Brady first made it to the big game. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the American push for innovation at the highest stage. Ultimately, 5G is the big game in technology and we can’t afford to be the losing team.

Demri Scott is a technology and telecommunications policy fellow at Digital Liberty, a sister organization of Americans for Tax Reform.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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