On relatively short notice, the White House today convened a 5G Summit consisting of morning and afternoon sessions for regulators, legislators, and telecom representatives. While its specific purpose wasn’t clear ahead of time, the Summit turned out to be an opportunity for administration officials who openly said that they “don’t know anything” to learn about and plan for the future of 5G in the United States.
During its morning session, the Summit featured speakers such as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow, and chief White House communications advisor David Redl, all discussing the need to speed up 5G deployment to improve U.S. economic growth. Collectively, their message was that the current administration favors continued deregulation of the telecom industry, in the name of bringing even as-yet-unimaginable innovations quickly into the market.
Pai also used the Summit as an opportunity to release the FCC’s 5G FAST Plan, described as a comprehensive strategy to “Facilitate American Superiority in 5G Technology.” The plan has three key components:
- Adding additional radio spectrum for 5G and Wi-Fi, including unlicensed 6GHz and above 95GHz frequencies for Wi-Fi, low-band changes to 600Mhz, 800Mhz, and 900MHz, mid-band improvements for 2.5GHz, 3.5GHz, and 3.7-4.2GHz, and high-band auctions for 24GHz, 28GHz, 37GHz, 39GHz, and 47GHz — plus plans to add 26GHz and 42GHz.
- FCC-level infrastructure policy improvements, which have already been implemented with recent FCC orders on speeding up 5G small cell deployments at both the federal and state/local levels.
- Updating federal regulations, collectively easing companies’ investments in 5G technologies, and blocking taxpayer dollars from being spent with companies that may constitute national security threats.
Most if not all of the plan’s components have notably already been announced, if not completed, though to the FCC’s credit, the agency has been moving quickly — if not ahead of the telecom industry, nearly in lock step with it. Beyond spectrum auctions and reallocations, neither of which are trivial, it’s unclear what the FCC plans to focus on over the next year as 5G continues to roll out.
Each of the speakers, including Redl, made references to the expected future applications of 5G: crystal-clear high-definition video, leaps forward for VR and AR, pocket devices with crazy speeds, and multiple connected vehicles and factories reliant on low-latency connections. Like Pai, Redl noted that allocating more radio spectrum would be critical for the future of 5G, and it’s clear from the new 5G FAST plan that it’s a priority for the FCC. He also spoke to the need to increase broadband availability to a larger number of Americans.
The Summit is continuing this afternoon with breakout sessions for the attendees. We’ll update this story with any additional news from the event if it breaks.