Yesterday, Verizon announced that it would begin rolling out 5G connectivity to 11 test markets: Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; Barnardsville, New Jersey; Brockton, Massachusetts; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Sacramento, California; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, DC. Likewise, AT&T is set to begin testing in Austin, Texas and Indianapolis, Indiana, and device-makers Ericsson, Intel, Samsung and Qualcomm are set to release 5G-compatible devices later this year. T-Mobile, in partnership with Ericsson and Nokia, also has plans for initial 5G trials underway.
The future of 5G promises rich, high-speed infrastructure to support the emerging Internet of Things and greater connectivity – from smarter cities to autonomous cars, advanced mHealth applications and an array of other products and services in between. It’s effectiveness, however, requires progressive but pragmatic policy at the local and state levels that can make 5G deployment a reality.
As Politic365 explained in our most recent Blueprint for Universal Economic Inclusion: Creating Economic Opportunity with Smarter Cities and 21st Century Infrastructure, “Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel aptly noted…5G services are poised to provide speeds more than 10 times faster than today’s 4G networks. The increased speeds of 5G service will change the way we communicate, multiplying the ways we use video—as images increasingly replace what is done today by text. The reduced latency of 5G service will clear the way for augmented and virtual reality—creating new teaching tools and entertainment experiences. And the lower energy demands of 5G service will lay the groundwork for new efficiency gains from the Internet of Things. The race to 5G is on.”
According to Dan Hays, partner at PWC’s Strategy & Division “the market remains focused at this point on high-band spectrum support…[and] initial deployments are likely to include fixed wireless services that should allow operators a more controlled environment in terms of garnering real-world experience in deploying millimeter wave spectrum.” Hays continued, “5G deployments will likely increase the industry’s reliance on fiber deployments to handle backhaul of high-bandwidth services, which could place increased strain – or value – on infrastructure.”
As noted recently by RCR Wireless News, “the test beds are said to include dedicated outdoor and indoor testing locations that will include ‘flexible infrastructure to allow modifications and updates as 5G standards develop,’ and include spectrum support below 6 GHz, and in the 28 GHZ and 39 GHz bands.”
National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial recently cautioned during a recent appearance at the Multicultural Media, Telecom, and Internet Council’s (MMTC) annual Broadband and Social Justice Conference that “we must look at the transformation to 5G technology with tremendous interest. But as these technological improvements take place, we must ensure that the communities we care about are not left behind.” His sentiments were echoed by Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn during the FCC’s February Open Meeting when she said, while “it has been projected, that the proposed next generation of mobile standards, will add about $2.7 trillion to U.S. GDP by 2030…as we peer into a 5G future, we cannot lose sight of the fact that too many remain stuck in a 3G, 2G, or no-G world.”
To ensure greater and more equitable opportunities to leverage 5G, local and state-level policymakers have an opportunity to incentivize job-creating investments in their communities. Through the creation of new infrastructure projects that can yield longer-term economic benefits in the form of new jobs and better consumer costs, 5G can deliver a world of opportunities to close the digital divide and increase participation in the nation’s burgeoning digital economy.
We’re on the front end of America’s 5G future, but the race to the top will only be won by sound policymaking and proactive business practices.