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.)
- Coronavirus Roundup: FCC Extends Rural Health Care Deadlines, Public Knowledge Tracks Misinformation, AEI on Regulation
- Special Webcast from Broadband Breakfast Partner Gigabit Libraries on Friday, March 27 – What Is a Library if the Building is Closed?
- Restricting Kids’ Online Usage Should Focus on Content Rather Than Screen Time, Say Panelists at Slate Event
- Broadband Breakfast Live Online on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 – The Importance of Universal Broadband in the Age of the Coronavirus
- Broadband Breakfast Live Online on Monday, March 30, 2020 – Coronavirus Conversation With Millennials from Around the World
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
China1 month ago
Tech Officials Diagnose Excessive Trump Actions as Product of ‘Huawei Derangement Syndrome’
Health3 weeks ago
Battling Coronavirus COVID-19, Broadband Could Provide Relief Although Telemedicine May Not Help
Section 2301 month ago
Attorney General Bill Barr Calls for ‘Recalibrated’ Section 230 as Justice Department Hosts Tech Immunity Workshop
Artificial Intelligence1 month ago
U.S. Progress on AI and Quantum Computing Will Best China, Says CTO Michael Kratsios
Net Neutrality1 month ago
FCC Seeks Comment on Net Neutrality Issues Remanded by Appeals Court: Public Safety, Pole Attachments and Lifeline
Asia1 month ago
Broadband Roundup: Global Internet Censorship, Tribal Divide, Klobuchar on the Broadband Stump
Broadband Mapping & Data1 month ago
Poor Broadband Maps and Lack of a Consolidated Voice Hinder Advocacy for Better Rural Internet
Health2 weeks ago
Broadband Breakfast Live Online Will Stream Daily in March on ‘Broadband and the Coronavirus’