WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today spoke at the White House 5G Summit on the importance of winning the race to lead the world in 5G.
Thune’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“The race has begun. The race to lead the world in 5G, with gigabit speeds, low latency, and connection to a tremendous numbers of devices, is upon us.
It is a race we must win, but by many accounts we are already behind China and other nations in key areas.
Here’s what’s at stake.
5G is expected to contribute $275 billion in new American investment, $500 billion in economic growth, and three million new jobs.
Make no mistake, we have the technology.
The technology created by American industries, including those represented here today, is the best around and leads the world in next generation mobile communications.
But that technology is only part of the equation.
We must also ensure that wireless providers have the infrastructure on which their systems depend, and they must be able to deploy those networks in a reasonable and timely manner.
On a bipartisan basis, Senator Schatz and I have introduced the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act, reflecting hard work with stakeholders from across the country to eliminate needless barriers to deploying 5G and to bring the benefits of 5G to American consumers. The STREAMLINE Act will help America reap the benefits of 5G leadership while respecting the important role State and local governments play in deployment decisions. I am very pleased that the FCC has just taken an important step to modernize its regulations consistent with the goals of the STREAMLINE Act.
The final piece of the puzzle is spectrum. Spectrum is the lifeblood of wireless communications and presents a particular challenge for 5G.
The bipartisan, bicameral communications bill my colleagues and I passed earlier this year and the President signed into law is a good start. As part of that package, my MOBILE NOW Act requires that 255 megahertz of spectrum be identified for fixed and mobile wireless broadband use by 2022.
But if America’s wireless carriers do not have enough of the right kinds of spectrum available, Americans simply won’t have the speed and connections we need.
This is particularly important for those of us in rural America, where the business case for deployment is very different than in America’s big cities.
While we’ve made important progress in securing low- and high-band spectrum, the United States is falling behind when it comes to mid-band spectrum.
This is particularly troubling because mid-band spectrum is crucial to the initial deployment of 5G.
Only 150 megahertz of mid-band spectrum has been specifically identified for likely 5G use, and that is on a shared basis under a creative, and novel licensing scheme.
This puts us far behind both China and South Korea in 5G spectrum and represents a serious threat to American leadership of next-generation technology.
And we must also be mindful of the critical role unlicensed spectrum plays in the development of 5G and throughout the communications landscape.
Wi-Fi operating on unlicensed spectrum is responsible for a tremendous and growing amount of the data transmitted in our homes and offices, and will play an increasing role in the future.
Identifying spectrum resources not just for the next few years, but for the next 10 years and beyond is essential if we are to retain American leadership.
I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues in the House and Senate as we continue our efforts to get keep government out of the way so that America can continue its leadership in next generation technology.”