In June, President Trump held “tech week” at the White House to convene leaders from across the tech sector. During the discussions, President Trump and top advisors started a dialogue to understand how government can work with the private sector to ensure economic prosperity in the digital age.
Technology has propelled America’s economy to new heights over the past two decades. The pace of change will only accelerate as the Internet of Things (IoT) which will be the foundation for driverless cars, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, drones and other innovations become common in our daily lives. The transformative power of these technologies cannot be understated. And it is safe to say that over the next five years, every aspect of our lives will be digitally integrated.
As we move towards this digital future, government at the federal, state and local level should ready themselves to handle this next wave of innovation. Many policymakers are already taking steps to ensure this bright and innovative future. More specifically, Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have long been focused on crafting policies that support the creation and deployment of next generation networks, commonly called 5G. These high speed, low latency digital highways are critical to powering the next wave of connected devices.
Senator John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Democrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair MORE (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, reintroduced the MOBILE NOW Act which ensures more spectrum – the invisible airwaves that power wireless connections – is made available for commercial use. The bill also reduces red tape associated with building out wireless infrastructure, an issue that the FCC has taken up in two recent rulemakings on wireless and wireline infrastructure. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced earlier this year that, “To realize the 5G future, we need smart infrastructure, not dump pipes. And we need to make sure our rules recognize this reality.”
It is not just in the federal government’s hands either. States like Virginia, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana and Iowa have all passed legislation to make the deployment of 5G more efficient and less costly.
The consensus is clear. Every county, city, and state wants the speed and reliability of 5G networks. But what will it mean for the consumer?
Beyond just faster connections, the low latency and high responsiveness of 5G networks will make fully autonomous cars a reality, diminishing congestion and maximizing transportation sustainability. 5G will enable a virtual reality experience so authentic, students in North Dakota will be able to “tour” the Capitol building from their classroom. Telehealth services and remote surgery won’t be just lofty ideas talked about in tech magazines but will be integrated into everyday modern healthcare. Neighborhoods will become safer with technologies that can track and respond to traffic accidents and gun shots in real-time.
Through this lens, technology has only just begun to revolutionize our lives, but we need to continue to put the policies in place that will allow us to see 5G come to fruition.
From garage start-ups to internet giants, government needs to step aside and allow permissionless innovation to flourish. By balancing this freedom to innovate with a focus on consumers and safeguarding their interests, technology will have near limitless potential to drive both our economy and create a better way of life for all.
Matthew Kandrach is President of CASE - Consumer Action for a Strong Economy - a free-market oriented consumer advocacy group.