White House 5G Event Draws a ‘Who’s Who’ in Broadband


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The White House National Economic Council brought together government officials, carriers, chip makers and trade groups, for a look into the future of next-generation 5G technology on Friday. Invited speakers included FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and National Telecommunications and Information Administration Administrator David Redl. Representatives from trade groups such as CTIA, the Consumer Technology Association, the Wireless Infrastructure Association, and companies such as Intel and Charter, came as well. The event featured sessions on spectrum, rural broadband deployment, security and applications of 5G technology.

More than 25 government agencies participate in a Broadband Interagency Working Group. Redl said there needs to be better data about where broadband is and isn’t. Earlier, Congress directed NTIA to help, so it sought public input and met with associations who explained how to gather deployment information.

“Our plan now is to take a phased approach to collecting the data we need to make a broadband availability map that shows the true picture of where we are,” Redl said. “We will be working with states that already have collected broadband availability data, or had otherwise strong broadband programs.” He expects NTIA will issue a request for proposals for additional data by year-end.

NTIA is working with government agencies to free-up more spectrum, and coordinates that effort with the FCC. Pai, meanwhile, was succinct, saying: “We need to seize the opportunities of 5G. Time is of the essence,” noting that other countries are jockeying for 5G leadership.

Pai discussed the FCC’s 5G FAST plan, which stands for a way to Facilitate America’s Superiority in 5G Technology. It includes freeing up spectrum, promoting wireless infrastructure, and modernizing regulations. “We’ll need an estimated 800,000 new cell sites by 2025,” said Pai. “For perspective, we have barely a quarter of those today.  We’ll also need a lot more fiber optic lines to connect all these small cells to the networks’ core.”

Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD), said America has the technology to win the 5G race, but the government must “ensure that wireless providers have the infrastructure on which their systems depend, and they must be able to deploy those networks in a reasonable and timely manner.” He discussed the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act, which eliminates 5G deployment barriers. He also discussed his Mobile Now Act, part of a communications bill signed into law by President Trump that requires 255 megahertz of spectrum be identified for fixed and mobile wireless broadband use by 2022.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) discussed the broadband provisions wrapped into Ray Baum’s Act, enacted into law this spring as part of omnibus funding legislation.

October 1, 2018