As investments in 5G technologies impact the U.S. market with the next generation of networks, devices and applications, the timeline for 6G development has already begun. While innovation is sometimes triggered in reaction to current market needs, technology leadership at a national level will require an early commitment to a common vision and set of objectives.
This commitment across government, industry, and academia will extend the benefits of 5G commercialization within the U.S. to a 6G world that delivers innovative services and customer experiences beyond network boundaries, physical environments and geographic constraints. This is the promise of 6G.
Emerging slowly from the global pandemic, the U.S. continues to face unprecedented challenges to economic stability and public health. Expansive communications networks have become the fabric that connects healthcare patients to providers, businesses to clients and customers, governments to citizens, and individuals to family and friends.
While governments have collaborated with industry to address these challenges and expand critical services for this new world, there is no option but to move forward and take the necessary steps to position the U.S. as the leader in telehealth, smart agriculture, distance learning, digitized commerce and artificial intelligence. This will require deliberate, collaborative steps and an aligned commitment from government and industry.
A holistic approach that begins with innovative research and relies on a commitment to standards and development — and which addresses U.S. needs — is likely to result in the introduction of 6G services and technologies that position the U.S. as the global leader for the next decade and beyond.
While the realities of different geographies, populations, economies and government oversight will always influence global market demands, it is the leadership of ideas coupled with the commitment of the public, private and academic sectors that will deliver the power and benefits of U.S. technological leadership.
Innovation should in no way be limited to meet a common goal, but there is a national advantage in defining a set of core technologies that will drive U.S. ingenuity and rapid development in the information and communications technology sector. These core technologies include:
- AI-enabled advanced networks and services
- Advanced antennas and radio systems
- Multi-access network services
Defining the breakthroughs that can lead the U.S. to sustainable technology leadership requires a vision for the next decade and a commitment to a series of incentivized steps that will spur early investment, speed to market, and wide-scale commercial adoption. Although free market principles should guide the thinking, the U.S. is competing with regions of the globe that greatly subsidize private sector development, violate intellectual property rights and sometimes introduce unfair trade barriers.
From an industry perspective, the federal government can best counter these technology barriers by adopting a national plan for technological excellence that relies on a set of committed principles and actions:
- Make available additional R&D funding focused on a core set of technological breakthrough areas where the U.S. can lead.
- Expand R&D tax credits to encourage massive investment in a core set of technologies that will promote U.S. leadership.
- Work with industry to develop a consumer- and business-centric solution to wireless spectrum challenges by creating a national spectrum policy.
- Explore innovative ways to promote widespread commercial adoption of U.S. developed and produced hardware and software through financial incentives to public and private sectors.
With a history of bringing together tech and communications companies to solve the industry’s biggest challenges, the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions is committed to working with its industry members to address this critical undertaking with government. The industry is ready and willing to work with government to establish the U.S. as the unparalleled technology leader for the next decade of technology advancements.
This opportunity comes at a critical time, as the country tackles new global security and competitive challenges, while confronting the global COVID-19 pandemic. Unarguably, 5G will change how the U.S. defends the homeland, and the path to 6G will undoubtedly present new challenges and opportunities that can best be undertaken with strong government and industry collaboration.
Embarking on the next decade of unimaginable opportunity, successful U.S. leadership will require a national commitment to technology leadership and excellence. Our future depends on it.
Susan M. Miller is president and CEO of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions. Under her leadership, ATIS has redefined the manner in which priorities are identified and standards are developed. Mike Nawrocki is vice president, technology and solutions for ATIS. He provides direction on emerging technology trends for next-generation networks. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
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