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The COVID Economy Needs a 5G Jumpstart

By: Tom Gurr, Executive Director

The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered thousands of Washington businesses and thrown millions into unemployment. Only now are we beginning to consider the prospects for an economic recovery. It remains to be seen whether the recovery will be rapid, or sluggish.

The good news is our elected leaders, particularly those in Washington, D.C., have the keys to jumpstart our recovery. By unleashing the incredible job-creating power of 5G, the federal government can usher in the next generation of cellular technology that leaves 4G in the dust in terms of power, speed, and bandwidth.

COVID only heightens the need for our leaders need to make 5G a priority, urgently.

Not that many years ago, 4G was considered a monumental leap from its predecessor, 3G. And it was. 4G dramatically changed our way of life in ways both foreseen and unpredictable at the time, enabling all sorts of new applications and businesses that were impractical or impossible on a 3G network.

This time around, 5G represents an even bigger leap, which gives our innovators new technological capabilities. There is much we can anticipate from 5G: An industry report last year forecast that America’s telecom operators plan to invest $275 billion to deploy 5G networks, creating 3 million new jobs and adding $500 billion to our economy.

5G also promises to revolutionize the network on which much of our technology operates. The ultra-fast mobile transmission speeds and wide bandwidth of 5G will help usher in advances in automation, unmanned inspection and monitoring, more remote operations, a smarter grid, and a true internet of things.

Of immediate importance, 5G connectivity will enable a new wave of innovation in telemedicine, something many of us have experienced for the first time during the COVID lockdown. Virtual checkups and remote and robotic surgeries will help bring more – and better – treatment options to those in rural parts of Washington.

And yet there is so much we can’t foresee, such as the next business created and jobs produced – from applications we simply can’t imagine yet! All that will be possible only on a 5G network. 

In the past century, America has been at the forefront of technological progress. We’ve been leaders in aerospace, computers and internet services here in Washington. China, however, is threatening to take the lead.

Rather than engage in bureaucratic squabbling and obstruction we’ve too often seen in D.C., China has freed up sufficient spectrum to get a head start on 5G. 

Bottom line, we are working to catch up.

Recognizing this, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, whose ranking member is our very own Sen. Maria Cantwell, has made building 5G infrastructure a national priority, and the Federal Communications Commission has accelerated the process of making more spectrum available for 5G.

That process has not been easy. Every effort by the FCC to free up spectrum for 5G has faced heated attacks from special interests — some of them, ironically enough, have been other government agencies.

Thankfully, the FCC – working with the Sen. Cantwell’s Committee – has been resisting these attacks and has been focused on the national need to maintain U.S. leadership in 5G. 

But now is not the time to let up.

We are facing a calamitous economic situation with millions out of work, and our best chance to jumpstart a recovery lies with accelerating the deployment of 5G networks. If we cede 5G leadership to China, we will have missed a golden opportunity to create more jobs here at home.

Our state has the talent and the business track record to be on the forefront of 5G advancement. We just need our leaders in D.C. to back the FCC’s efforts to take 5G over the finish line.

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Categories Blog | Tags: | Posted on June 24, 2020

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