WASHINGTON, July 24, 2019 – Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler doused cold water on the increasingly growing hype surrounding the 5G wireless standard at a Brookings Institution event on Wednesday.
Instead, he said, 5G deployment will be an evolutionary process. And the notion that we are on a “race to 5G” is really a purely political tool, he said.
As tensions unfolds with U.S. trade issues and firms competing to be 5G frontrunners, Wheeler said that the goal to successful deployment is to “rationally facilitate rollout in a way that doesn’t stifle competition.”
5G’s impact on connectivity cannot be underestimated, he said. It is the first all-software network and will be the last major overhaul of a wireless network for decades to come. But developers and policy experts need to look at 5G’s secondary impacts on society.
An estimated 11 percent of Americans don’t have access to high-speed broadband, said Wheeler. 5G requires a new level of wired connectivity in order to transmit data from small-cell sites. The government needs to enact policies that extends the reach of fiber to rural areas and other underserved communities.
Connecting rural communities requires an ecosystem built around human capital, said Karim Foda, economist at the International Monetary Fund. A connected workforce is important for people to adapt their skillsets to evolving technology.
At the macro level, Foda said, a vibrant general-purpose information technology environment can help foster a dynamic and inclusive economy. However, tech can be stymied by three factors: A declining level of competition among firms, increasing importance of “intangible capital” and declining public investment in basic tech research.
Rollout delays also stem from gaps of productivity in the economy. The firms at the top of the supply chain produce quickly and efficiently, while the smaller firms are left behind in the innovation process. As the dominant firms pursue rent-seeking behavior and consolidate intellectual property, he said, the market entry barrier becomes higher.
What’s key, said Wheeler, is that policymakers need to start thinking of long-term policies that would better facilitate technology competition.
(Photo of Tom Wheeler from November 2015 by Eric Bridiers used with permission.)
- Georgia’s State-led Mapping Initiative, D.C. Has Fastest Mobile Speeds, Coalition to Fight Digital Divide
- Algorithms Can Assist With the ‘Infodemic’, But Have Limitations, Says Center for Data Innovation
- Section 230 is Essential and Broadly Misunderstood, Say Panelists at Broadband Breakfast Live Online Event
- Contact Tracing App Can Assist in Reopening Localities Safely, According to AI Task Force Panelists
- Breakfast Media Minute: July 9, 2020
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Fiber1 month ago
Fiber Networks Hold a Cybersecurity Advantage Over Rival Co-Axial and Wireless Technologies, Say Panelists
Congress1 month ago
Senators Introduce Healthcare Broadband Bill as House Companion, Proposes $2 Billion Telehealth Expansion
Artificial Intelligence3 weeks ago
Brookings Panelists Emphasize Importance of Addressing Biases in Artificial Intelligence Technology
Congress1 month ago
Partisan Disagreement Delays Broadband Funding That Might Come Through HEROES Act
Artificial Intelligence1 week ago
U.S. State Department Employing Artificial Intelligence Against COVID-19 Misinformation
Broadband Roundup1 week ago
Artificial Intelligence Task Force, State Cybersecurity, ADTRAN Offers Rural Funding Guidance
#broadbandlive3 weeks ago
Broadband Breakfast Live Online on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 – Federal Broadband Funds and Opportunity Zones
Expert Opinion1 month ago
Gary Bolton: Under the Stress of COVID-19, the Networks That Held Fast Were Symmetrical Fiber Broadband