The future depends on connectivity. From artificial intelligence and self-driving cars to telemedicine and mixed reality to as yet undreamt technologies, all the things we hope will make our lives easier, safer, and healthier will require high-speed, always-on internet connections. The FCC regulates who can use which ranges, or bands, of frequencies to prevent users from interfering with each other's signals. Low-Band Frequencies Bands below 1 GHz traditionally used by broadcast radio and television as well as mobile networks; they easily cover large distances and travel through walls, but those are now so crowded that carriers are turning to the higher range of the spectrum. Mid-Band Spectrum The range of the wireless spectrum from 1 GHz to 6 GHz, used by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, mobile networks, and many other applications.
President Donald Trump delivers a speech during the World Economic Forum on Friday. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and some in the wireless industry have come out against a proposal for the government to build the next generation wireless network. The Trump Administration is reportedly considering such a nationwide initiative, in part to prevent infiltration by China. The Trump national security team is in the early stages of deciding whether or not to build and operate a super-fast nationwide 5G wireless network, said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss internal deliberations on a national security issue. A presentation recently made by a senior National Security Council official to senior administration officials was first obtained and reported on by news site Axios.
Technical standards for the next generation of wireless services aren't even finalized, yet the US and China are already locked in a crucial race to be the first country to deploy a so-called 5G network. Or at least that's what both the US government and the wireless industry say. "The United States will not get a second chance to win the global 5G race," Meredith Attwell Baker, president and CEO of the wireless industry group CTIA, warned in April, when the group released a report concluding that the US trails China and South Korea in preparing for 5G (fifth generation) networks. If that doesn't change, the report warns, the US economy will suffer. The report echoed a leaked National Security Council document that suggested the US government consider building a 5G network.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Trump promised legislation to invest in "the cutting edge industries of the future." But the speech was characteristically backward-looking. Trump talked up gains in manufacturing jobs and oil and gas exports, but didn't once mention the word "technology," nor any other tech policy issue, such as privacy, broadband, or antitrust. Aides filled in the blanks. "President Trump's commitment to American leadership in artificial intelligence, 5G wireless, quantum science, and advanced manufacturing will ensure that these technologies serve to benefit the American people and that the American innovation ecosystem remains the envy of the world for generations to come," Michael Kratsios, deputy assistant to the president for technology policy, said in a statement.
The Trump Administration is considering setting standards for a secure nationwide 5G mobile network to be used by both civilians and military weapons, in addition to signing up allies to help deploy 5G to developing nations in order to "inoculate" them against China, according to alleged leaked government documents published by Axios.