James Czerniawski is a contributor with Young Voices. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesCz19
The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, has been making a concerted effort to drive the United States forward in the deployment of 5G networks around the country. That’s great, because 5G is the next step in expanding our communications technology, enabling faster internet speeds and empowering advancement in a wide array of technologies. It’s projected that 5G will “contribute almost $2.2 trillion to the global economy between 2024 and 2034,” so it makes sense that Chairman Pai wants to capitalize on that opportunity. Recently, he put forth a proposal that would free up broadband for companies to implement 5G technologies.
As the country is in the race to 5G against other countries, most notably China, freeing up broadband that was being limited in use is definitely a key way to expedite that process. An important thing to note is that the FCC is taking a relatively hands-off approach in trying to spur innovation and growth in the race to 5G. By allowing for partially unlicensed use of spectrum, companies can experiment with different kinds of ideas and products that they otherwise would not be able to.
The Chairman’s proposal would put us on a path to a 5G future, where a variety of next-generation tech — like smart cities and homes — could become a normal part of everyday life. It could also bring us one step closer to a country whose roads are only driven by fully autonomous vehicles.
Smart cities are a great example not only of how 5G innovation benefits the private sector, but also the public sector. It can empower cities to be much more efficient. For example, 5G tech can help with the reduction of wasteful spending. Smart-city tech is driving more accurate waste management programs, water metering and environmental monitoring, which can save cities money. And for residents, one of the great benefits of smart cities lies in the improved infrastructure to monitor traffic, which map-based applications rely on to plan routes. More accurate and efficient routing can improve the quality of life for people who spend an average of 8 hours every week in their cars.
The expansion of 5G would also unleash further innovation in smart-home tech. One of the chief benefits from having a smart home is the ability to manage multiple appliances and functions from a central hub. By improving the machine to machine (M2M) technology that drives smart-home communications, homeowners can experience increased control over their home, and greater efficiency of utility management, like water and electricity. A projected 46 million homes in the United States will be empowered with smart home technologies by the end of 2020, making the impact of developments in this space hard to overstate. This can also lead to savings for many families. Indeed, an expansion of 5G will allow companies to invest in the automation of homes further, dropping the price of home automation systems from as high as $3,500 closer to $1,000.
And let’s not forget the auto industry. Autonomous vehicles are the future, and expanded 5G will get us there faster. And as more autonomous cars hit the roads, it will likely improve road safety, putting a significant dent into the tragic 38,800 deaths on the road that happened in the U.S. last year alone — over 90% of which are deemed to be caused by human error. Our shipping network would fundamentally change, too, with goods being transported at a faster pace than ever before.
In the race to 5G, it’s important for government regulators like the FCC to continue fostering an environment that allows for innovation that pushes boundaries. If lawmakers try to over-regulate out of fear of the unknown or a desire for control, then the country will quickly fall behind in the advancement of tech that helps millions of Americans. It was only recently that the United States regained its place in the top five most innovative countries, and so it’s paramount that the country strives to retain this status and always search for opportunities to improve. Chairman Pai understands this, which is why his efforts are so encouraging.
The FCC, under Chairman Pai, envisions a future where all industries are beneficiaries of 5G deployment around the country. He has transformed the FCC into a forward-thinking regulator, offering a glimpse at a future ripe for tremendous technological advancement.