“America-first, 5G-first”- U.S. 5G leadership is a national imperative

After a meeting with key telecom executives, the Trump administration said it wants to help the wireless industry deploy “5G” quickly.  National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said that 5G support aligns with lower-tax and deregulation policies that encourage private sector growth, adding the U.S. supports an “America-first, 5G-first” approach.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai called the development of 5G technology “a national imperative for economic growth and competitiveness.”

Pai said 5G networks could effectively remove speed and capacity as meaningful constraints on wireless innovation and could be 100 times faster than current networks.

“The lag time between a device’s request for data and the network’s response will be less than one-tenth of what it is today,” he said. “Wireless networks that today support 1,000 connected devices per square kilometer could instead support 1 million” and could eventually lead to capabilities such as remote surgical procedures, he said.

Administration officials said they have high hopes for the technology that has the potential to help create 3 million new jobs, $275 billion in private investment, and $500 billion in new economic growth.

Although other U.S. government agencies like the FCC and the NTIA have long dealt in spectrum and network deployment issues, the White House summit last Friday was the first major signal by the Trump administration that it also wants to play an active role in smoothing regulations for 5G rollouts. The summit collected executives from the wireless industry with officials from the Trump administration—including Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, and Michael Kratsios, deputy U.S. CTO and deputy assistant to the President at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the agency that held the event—along with top House and Senate lawmakers and officials from the FCC and the NTIA.

Officials described the event as an opportunity for White House representatives to listen to wireless industry executives and to learn ways the Trump administration can play a role in 5G.

5G networks will rely on denser arrays of small antennas and the cloud to offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than current 4G networks and serve as critical infrastructure for a range of industries.

Congress and regulators are also working to free up more wireless spectrum for use by 5G networks and improve other regulations to make it easier to deploy fiber lines, which are critical for 5G traffic from small cells.

In addition to providing vastly greater speed, 5G will allow transportation networks to link connected and self-driving cars, while new wireless sensors will provide real-time health monitoring and other advanced applications.

White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said on Friday the 5G race will be won “principally through the free enterprise, free market economy.”

CTIA, a wireless industry trade group representing Sprint Corp, AT&T Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Intel Corp, said in a statement after the summit, “We completely agree with the administration, the FCC … and congressional leaders that free market American leadership in 5G is vital for our economy, private investment and future innovation.”

The FCC on Wednesday voted to eliminate regulatory barriers to 5G deployment. Pai said the measure would cap fees that cities could charge to install small cells and requires local governments to promptly review applications.    According to Pai, 5G networks will need 800,000 cell sites, mostly small cells no bigger than a backpack, or about four times the existing number of sites.

Kudlow said federal law allows the FCC to override localities on this issue. “We’re not here to be completely heavy-handed but sometimes you have to do what you got to do,” he said at the summit.

Rep. Walden noted that the U.S. needs to protect and encourage the supply chain for 5G. Although he did not discuss any specific policies or positions, he did say that “there are some who think we can simply ban vendors from American markets, but the marketplace for hardware and software is global.”

Those comments are particularly noteworthy given that the FCCembarked on a proposal to tacitly block any network operator—big and small—from using Universal Service Funds to purchase equipment from companies that pose a security threat. That proceeding at the FCC is widely seen as an attempt by the U.S. government to block Chinese network equipment vendors Huawei from competing in the market.

Walden did not name Huawei and also did not go into specifics of his position on the topic. No other speakers at the event discussed supply chain issues in their public remarks.

Separately, mid-band spectrum received a notable amount of attention from the likes of Rep. Walden and NTIA’s Redl. Speakers generally argued that a robust 5G marketplace will use a wide range of spectrum, from low-band spectrum to high-band spectrum. Officials and lawmakers acknowledged that the FCC is working to auction high-band spectrum starting in November, but several speakers called on regulators to release more mid-band spectrum for wireless network operators and others.

And Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., also noted that both licensed and unlicensed spectrum should be made available in the marketplace.

After the meeting, CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said in a statement that “it was especially noteworthy that today’s event focused so much on the need to free up more mid-band spectrum for commercial wireless use to help meet this goal and to keep up with skyrocketing consumer demand for mobile data. We look forward to continuing this important dialogue with the Administration and policymakers to make 5G a reality.”

However, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, sounded a note of caution on Friday. “As a result of our escalating trade war with China, by the end of this year we will have a 25 percent duty on antennas, switches, and routers – the essential network facilities needed for 5G deployment,” she said.


Table 1: Top patent owner of 5G declarations as to the number of patent families as to office of application and grant status

SOURCE: IPlytics, November 2019

Company name Declared 5G families Filed at USPTO, EPO or PCT Granted in one office
Huawei Technologies (CN) 3,325 2,379 1,337
Samsung Electronics (KR) 2,846 2,542 1,746
LG Electronics (KR) 2,463 2,296 1,548
Nokia (including Alcatel-Lucent) (FI) 2,308 2,098 1,683
ZTE Corporation (CN) 2,204 1,654 596
Ericsson (SE) 1,423 1,295 765
QUALCOMM (US) 1,330 1,121 866
Intel Corporation (US) 934 885 171
Sharp Corporation (JP) 808 677 444
NTT Docomo (JP) 754 646 351
CATT (CN) 588 360 72
InterDigital Technology (US) 428 346 226
Guangdong Oppo M Telecommunications (CN) 378 363 36
Vivo Mobile (CN) 193 168 0
ASUSTeK Computer (TW) 117 103 35
NEC Corporation (JP) 114 102 84
Apple (US) 79 73 52
KT Corporation (KR) 75 53 15
ETRI (KR) 71 50 20
Fujitsu (JP) 68 18 66
Mororola Mobility (US) 56 54 50
Lenovo Group Limited (CN) 51 48 19
HTC Corporation (TW) 46 44 40
MediaTek (TW) 42 38 30
WILUS Group (KR)  41 20 2
Panasonic (JP)  33 30 9
FG Innovation (CN)  33 33 4
Sony Corporation (JP) 22 17 23
ITRI (TW) 14 13 12
SK Telecom (KR) 12 8 0
Spreadtrum Communications (CN) 11 8 6

Note that Qualcomm (7), Intel (8), InterDigital (12) are only U.S. companies listed in the table above.

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7 thoughts on ““America-first, 5G-first”- U.S. 5G leadership is a national imperative

  1. If the United States is to be a world leader in 5G technology, it must get government out of the way and allow the private sector to take the lead, officials said last week.

    Elected officials that attended a Friday summit on 5G at the White House said it is up to telecom companies to help make sure that the likes of China and South Korea do not pull further ahead, while government must do all it can to not obstruct that innovation.

    “There’s two paths,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said in a speech at the summit. “One path is the government regulatory path, which we do not favor. The other path is the private enterprise, free market path.”

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a plan last week to streamline the deployment of 5G infrastructure like small cells and cap the fees that cities and other local governments can charge telecom companies to install that infrastructure.

    Opponents said it undermines technology initiatives funded by those fees, and local control under the federal Telecommunications Act, with cities and governmental organizations promising to launch legal action against the ruling.


  2. Why 5G Internet Is a Policy Minefield for Cities

    This week, four U.S. cities are getting their first taste of the next generation of wireless internet. Verizon began rolling out its 5G residential service on Monday in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, bringing this superfast wireless broadband to customers for the first time. But it arrives just as local governments find their hands tied at governing how these networks—and all the equipment they require—will fit into their communities.

    That’s because, on Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission restricted cities’ ability to regulate 5G infrastructure. Under the new rules, local governments face tight deadlines to approve or reject the installation of this new cellular equipment. The rules also put limits on how much money cities can charge wireless firms for the privilege of putting hardware in public rights of way.

    This is no small move. The 5G buildout will require massive amounts of new gear, and the installation and approval process has already proven contentious in many places. The U.S. Conference of Mayors was quick to criticize the FCC’s move as a breach of local authority and suggest it will turn to the courts for resolution.

    “The [FCC] has embarked on an unprecedented federal intrusion into local (and state) government property rights that will have substantial and continuing adverse impacts on cities and their taxpayers,” U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO Tom Cochran said in statement. “The Conference and its members now look to the federal courts to review and rectify this unlawful taking of local property.”

    The dispute comes down to the “small cell” equipment required for much of 5G and who gets to say where it goes. Small cell sites can be as compact as a pizza box and are typically installed on utility poles or buildings. 5G technology, in turn, delivers wireless internet access at least five times faster and more responsive than today’s 4G networks—but 5G’s best performance limits it to the shortest range.

    While a 4G cell site might cover a dozen city blocks, 5G’s fastest, millimeter-wave frequencies might need one site for each block. An Accenture study commissioned by the wireless trade group CTIA estimated in March that there would be 769,000 small-cell deployments in the U.S. from 2018 to 2026. In a separate report, CTIA estimated that the U.S. had 323,448 cell sites in service at the end of 2017.


  3. The FCC on Wednesday voted to eliminate regulatory barriers to 5G deployment. FCC Chairman Pai said the measure would cap fees that cities could charge to install small cells and requires local governments to promptly review applications.

  4. Operators are expected to invest over $200 billion in capex on their 5G networks between 2018 and the end of 2023, and much more beyond that. Developed markets such as the USA and South Korea are taking the early lead regarding 5G rollout and service launch, but it will be China that comes to dominate capital expenditure within five years.

    Heavy Reading’s latest report, Mobile Operator 5G Capex Forecasts: 2018-2023, seeks to provide insight into how much might be spent, and where and when. It provides estimates and forecasts 5G capex by mobile operators (including investments made by those mobile operators in the fixed transport infrastructure to serve those networks), as well as breakdowns of investment by region, and by network segment (RAN, transport, core and civils). The estimates are underpinned by forecasts for 5G subscribers and 5G macro and microcell sites.

    — Simon Sherrington, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading

  5. May I simply say what a relief to discover someone who actually checks the facts and understands what they are writing about on the web. You actually realize how to bring an important problem like “America Needs 5G Leadership” to light and make it relevant to readers.

    More people need to look at the IEEE Techblog and understand the diverse viewpoints you present. I was surprised you’re not more popular given that you certainly have the gift of investigative reporting and clear writing about technical, policy and business issues related to telecommunications/networking. Many thanks.

  6. Great article on the urgent need for U.S. government led 5G leadership and co-ordination! Thank you 🙂

  7. Thank you very much for this beautiful article on the importance of 5G to U.S. leadership. I read it with pleasure, but am quite skeptical the U.S. will lead in 5G with both S Korea and China way ahead at this time.

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