The new generation ofis exciting industry leaders who believe that rapid advances in faster internet speeds will fuel innovation across all sectors of the US economy.
On Monday evening, Verizon’s CEO Hans Vestberg spoke about 5G for almost an hour during his keynote address at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is practically this year. 5G was also featured in more than a dozen breakout sessions during the week as industry leaders discussed its impact on businesses, government, and consumers.
However, the researchers warn that the promise of life-changing applications will take years and that Washington lawmakers may not be ready to lead the way.
“The big bet right now is trying to get all of the infrastructure in order so the next revolutionary app and service ecosystem can emerge in the US before it works anywhere else,” said Stan Adams, deputy general counsel and Open Internet Counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Installing new or upgrading existing cell towers with hundreds of thousands of pizza box-sized antennas in each block and providing more radio frequencies to connect these towers are critical to the growth of the technology, experts say.
5G frequencies are available in the low-band, mid-band and high-band spectrum. In recent years, the Federal Communications Commission has approved 5 gigahertz spectrum for 5G use. There is an ongoing auction to open up an additional 280 megahertz of space in the mid-band spectrum, which has raised a record $ 80 billion so far, a senior FCC official told CBS News.
The official said opening up a new frequency space had been a challenge as much of the space was already in use.
Industry leaders agree that the benefits of 5G will be fully realized as more high-band millimeter wavelength frequencies become available. The high-band category offers the most bandwidth and fastest speeds, but the signal doesn’t travel far and can’t penetrate walls.
That means “a tower on every corner of every block and maybe on every floor of every building,” says Adams. As a result, companies that provide the infrastructure often get into regulatory battles with cities and towns.
“The problem on the part of the industry is that the new towers they are rolling out for 5G are not the 300-foot metal structures,” Adams said, adding, “They are not the same things that most permits and reviews allow Rules were in mind when they were developed. “
Local governments want to “maintain their ability to review and charge for new deployments in their cities,” while businesses “want to roll out 5G on time and at low cost,” said Adams.
The FCC has passed reforms to accelerate the adoption of 5G.
In 2018, the Commission prevented municipalities from charging more fees than they cost to process and manage applications. More recently, the FCC said state or local officials must approve any application to modify existing towers that does not materially change the dimensions of existing structures within 60 days.
Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, senior fellow on governance studies at the Brookings Institution and director of the Center for Technological Innovation, told CBS News that having a “centralized” committee that helps with policy while keeping everyone involved will reduce regulatory struggles and that Introduction will improve efficiency.
“We need to sit back and figure out how to take all of the post-it notes and put them into a complete plan so we can move forward coherently,” said Turner Lee. She added that “it is imperative for the incoming Biden administration to think about” a 5G task force that will bring all of these pieces together “.
However, some, like Palmer Group’s technology advisor and CEO Shelly Palmer, say Washington lawmakers are not tech-savvy enough to usher in a new era of progress.
“We have legislators and laws that stand behind the technology for years,” said Palmer. “While it has always been this way, technology has never accelerated so quickly.”
The coronavirus pandemic has increased the need for connectivity as Americans work and study from home. Experts say that beyond a fast internet connection, 5G will support advances in telemedicine, autonomous vehicles, virtual reality and much more.
Palmer said “the really cool stuff” like mixed reality, which is the combination of physical and digital objects that exist side by side and interact in real time, and other applications that rely on the fast speed and low latency of 5G will be a challenge for a few years.
In 2010, when 4G wireless technology hit the market, it took two to three years for life-changing applications like ridesharing and video conferencing to become commonplace.
Adams said 5G will also offer the ability to deploy “literally millions of tiny little sensors” on all types of infrastructure and goods, which will lead to “much more data collection across networks.” In addition, cell towers mean more precise geolocation of individual cell phones in each block.
“When you grow and expand your data collection mechanisms, privacy suffers. We have seen this over and over,” said Adams.