Trump and FCC plan to accelerate 5G rollout in U.S.; FCC fund to connect rural areas

In a press conference today in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, President Trump laid out a number of initiatives focused on helping accelerate the U.S. role in the 5G race.

“This is, to me, the future,” Trump said, opening the press conference flanked by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai,  Ivanka Trump and a room full of communications representatives in cowboy and hard hats.

It’s all about 5G now,” Trump told the audience. “We were 4G and everyone was saying we had to get 4G, and then they said before that, ‘we have to get 3G,’ and now we have to get 5G. And 5G’s a big deal and that’s going to be there for a while. And at some point we’ll be talking about number six (6G).”

“5G will be as much as 100 times faster than the current 4G cellular networks.  The race to 5G is on and America must win,  It’s a race our great companies are now involved in,” Trump added.

Trump said a secure 5G network will transform how everyone communicates and create astonishing new opportunities in America.  “It will make American farms more productive, American manufacturing more competitive and American health care better and more accessible,” he said.

The apparently off-script moment echoed Trump’s recent call on Twitter for the U.S. to get 6G technology “as soon as possible.” There’s something to be said for the spirit, perhaps, but it’s probably a little soon to be jumping the gun on a technology that doesn’t really exist just yet.

Trump used the opportunity to downplay earlier rumors that the government might be building its own 5G  network, instead promoting a free-market method, while taking a shot at the government’s capabilities. “In the United States, our approach is private sector-driven and private sector-led,” he added. “The government doesn’t have to spend lots of money.”

“We cannot allowed any other country to out compete the United States in this power industry of the future,” Trump said. It’s important to note that China and the U.S. are fiercely competing in 5G adding to the tensions among the #1 and #2 global economies.

In recent months both the administration and the FCC  have been discussing ways to make America more competitive in the race to the soon-to-be-ubiquitous cellular technology. Earlier today, the FCC announced plans to hold the largest spectrum auction in U.S. history, offering up the bands to wireless carriers. The planned auction is set to commence on December 10th.  As much as 3.4 gigahertz of “millimeter-wave” spectrum could be sold by the FCC to wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon in the spectrum sale, according to Pai.

5G Speedometer

“Forward-thinking spectrum policy, modern infrastructure policy, and market-based network regulation form the heart of our strategy for realizing the promise of the 5G future.” – FCC Chairman Pai


Techcrunch said:

The focus is understandable, of course (AJW: really???). 5G’s value will go far beyond faster smartphones, providing connections for a wide range of IoT and smart technologies and potentially helping power things like robotics and autonomous vehicles. The technology will undeniably be a key economic driver, touching as of yet unseen portions of the U.S. workforce.

“To accelerate and incentivize these investments, my administration is freeing up as much wireless spectrum as needed,” Trump added, echoing Pai’s plans.

Earlier today Pai and the FCC also proposed a $20.4 billion fund design to help connect rural areas. The chairman said the commission believes the fund could connect as many as four million small businesses and residences to high-speed Internet over the course of the next decade.  The “Rural Digital Opportunity Fund” could launch later this year, after a period of public notice and comment.

The focus is understandable, of course. 5G’s value will go far beyond faster smartphones, providing connections for a wide range of IoT and smart technologies and potentially helping power things like robotics and autonomous vehicles. The technology will undeniably be a key economic driver, touching as of yet unseen portions of the U.S. workforce.



Trump, FCC unveil plan to accelerate 5G rollout


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5 thoughts on “Trump and FCC plan to accelerate 5G rollout in U.S.; FCC fund to connect rural areas

  1. “The race to 5G is a race America must win,” Mr. Trump said. “And it is a race frankly that our great companies are now involved in. We have given them the incentive they need. It is a race we will win.”

    Comment: That’s astonishing since there are NO US COMPANIES WORKING ON 5G BASE STATIONS or endpoint devices. US wireless carriers will buy 5G base stations and other 5G networking equipment from Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsong (not from Huawei or ZTE). Apple iPhone will have 5G AFTER IMT 2020 is standardized in late 2020 or early 2021. There is no other US company making 5G smartphones or tablets to the best of my knowledge.
    But critics of the administration’s approach said the technology the United States had embraced focused too much on the high-band spectrum, which will make it more difficult to deliver 5G service in rural America.

    Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic appointee to the F.C.C., criticized the Trump administration’s 5G policy, saying it had done “more harm than good.”

    “From imposing tariffs on 5G equipment to alienating allies on 5G security to falling behind the rest of the world on critical mid-band spectrum, it has yet to offer a workable plan for US leadership,” she said on Twitter.

    The United States has auctioned other parts of the high-band electromagnetic spectrum to firms that need to communicate to a new generation of cellphones and internet-of-things devices.

    Some experts think the United States should focus more on developing midband, not high-band, spectrum. High-band allows more data, but has a much smaller range, meaning providers must build far more 5G towers. It also means a 5G system based on high-band spectrum is harder to build in rural areas.

    Other parts of the world, especially in Asia, have focused their 5G development on midband spectrum, which covers a broader area although with less capacity.

    “It’s essential that we pivot to midband right now because the rest of the world could leave us behind,” Ms. Rosenworcel said in an interview. “This is the spectrum that is most likely to bring 5G service to rural parts of this country, and we need to think about investing in this now and not later.”
    Comment: The FCC Commissioner should know better. The frequencies to be used for IMT 2020 (standardized 5G by ITU-R WP 5D) will be determined at the WRC 19 conference in Egypt this October-November. Until then we don’t know what midband or mm Wave band frequencies should be auctioned for standardized 5G which will displace each and every deployed “5G” network now deployed and to be deployed before IMT 2020 has been standardized and implemented.

    It may NOT be just a software upgrade, as Ericsson has repeatedly claimed, because we do NOT know at this time what the IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT standard will be or what frequencies will be permissible to use for it!

  2. Could US still win 5G race? –Global Times

    At a press conference on Friday, US President Donald Trump and other US officials declared that the US “must win” the race in ultra-fast 5G technology and argued the US was well-positioned to win. But that has been met with skepticism and criticism in China. Chinese industry analysts noted that not only did US officials exaggerate the US’ capabilities but they also brought geopolitics and its “America first” zero-sum theory into the development of a crucial technology that will have implications for not one country but the entire world for years to come.

    During the press conference, Trump said “the race to 5G is a race America must win… It’s a race that we will win.”

    Citing several reports that said that the US was leading in the race, Ajit Pai, the chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission, remarked that the US “is now well-positioned to win the race to fast, secure and reliable 5G.”

    Though the US is one of the leading players in the development of 5G technology, analysts said that the race is far from over and the US might have much catching up to do in many areas, including engineering standard setting, equipment manufacturing, 5G mobile phones and business and application development.

    Catching up

    “At the moment, I think the only advantage the US has is chips,” a Beijing-based industry insider, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Thursday. “Even that gap is being closed by Chinese firms like Huawei.”

    The insider pointed out that Chinese companies have been responsible for half of the global engineering standards for 5G, with China Mobile alone contributing more than 90 sets of standards, while the US only has a few.

    In terms of equipment manufacturing, the world’s top five makers are Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE and Samsung. Chinese companies such as Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi are also leading in development of 5G mobile devices, the insiders said. In terms of 5G devices production, “China is the dominant player,” he said.

    “So I don’t know where their confidence comes from,” the insider said. “It sounds more like expressions of worry that it is falling behind.”

    Just over a week before the press conference, the Defense Innovation Board, which is affiliated with the US Department of Defense, released a report that warned about China’s advances in 5G and its “security risks” to the US.

    The report pointed out China will have over 350,000 5G base stations, nearly 10 times as many as in the US, and that Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE are pushing 5G development globally and China’s handset and internet applications and services are likely to become dominant globally.

    “Even if [the US] were to restrict use of Chinese equipment suppliers domestically, the United States is not a big enough market in wireless to prevent China’s 5G suppliers from continuing to increase market share globally,” it concluded.

    Though some US carriers such as AT&T claimed they had launched 5G or plan to soon, “they are mostly likely just slightly upgrading from 4G and not offering real 5G,” said Fu Liang, a veteran analyst in the telecom industry.

    Fu told the Global Times on Sunday that for technological advances that have as wide implications as 5G does, and are also as complex as 5G, “there is no simply way to say who is leading and who is not. Frankly, from the consumers’ standpoint, it’s not about who wins but how we can get the best services.”


    What’s more concerning, analysts say, with regard to the comments from the US officials is that they politicized the development of 5G technology, which likely to pose unnecessary obstacles for further advancement.

    “Putting politics ahead of technology development and markets will no doubt further complicate market competition and largely increase the difficulty of 5G development,” said Fang Xingdong, founder of Beijing-based technology think tank ChinaLabs.

    In what analysts describe the “America first” zero-sum theory in 5G, Trump said that “we cannot allow any other country to out-compete the US in this powerful industry of the future… We just can’t let that happen.”

    Fang said that although Trump did not mention China by name, he was clearly aiming at China when describing “rivals.” “In facing this 5G race propelled by the US, [China] must enhance its strategic will as well as stay rational and calm,” he said.

  3. A bruising fight is under way between the U.S. and China over 5G, which promises superfast data transmission that will underpin autonomous driving vehicles, robotic assembly lines, remote surgery and other emerging businesses.

    Telecommunications operators are expected to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming years to build out the networks. In China, the government and major carriers have said they plan trials of 5G in 2019 and aim to roll it out on a larger scale in 2020. In the U.S., companies are expected to test pilot network installations by the end of the year and the government is preparing to auction off broad swaths of airwaves.

    The U.S. has effectively barred Huawei from domestic 5G networks and is trying to persuade allies to do likewise, saying that the Chinese company is beholden to the Communist Party and thus presents an espionage and security risk in networks that will be pervasive.

    Huawei denies the allegations. The firm is the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment, a leader in superfast 5G technology and a top seller of smartphones globally.

    Huawei has long said that it doesn’t pose a cybersecurity threat and has denied all of the legal charges against it.

    Recently, its founder, the former Chinese army engineer Ren Zhengfei, has given a series of interviews defending the company while also praising President Trump, telling CNBC in an interview set to air this week that Mr. Trump is a “great president” whose tax policies are “helping revitalize enterprises.”

  4. FCC controversially relaxes its rules to open mid-band spectrum for 5G

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to relax its rules around who can own spectrum in the 2.5GHz band.

    Rules first established in the Kennedy-era required spectrum in the 2.5GHz band to be used for educational purposes. With more spectrum now needed for 5G, the FCC has decided to open up the “underutilised” airwaves.

    The FCC voted 3-2 in favour of changing the rules and claims it will help with “closing the digital divide” between rural and more developed areas.

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the vote “a major step toward freeing up critical mid-band spectrum for 5G.”

    Sprint uses leased spectrum in the 2.5GHz band for its 4G network and its ongoing rollout of 5G. Part of the reason why T-Mobile is willing to splash $26 billion on acquiring Sprint is to use the mid-band spectrum for its own 5G network.

    “At long last, we remove the burdensome restrictions on this band, allowing incumbents greater flexibility in their use of the spectrum and introduce a spectrum auction that will ensure that this public resource is finally devoted to its highest-valued use,” added Pai.

    The FCC also hopes that relaxing the rules will help the US meet its ambitious 5G strategy of establishing itself as the world leader. Under the new rules, the FCC will auction 2.5GHz spectrum directly to operators.

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