While many in Washington were enjoying a perfect spring day yesterday, several technology leaders convened inside the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offices for a workshop to discuss and demonstrate some early developments in fifth generation “5G” mobile technology. If there’s one key message to take away from the workshop, it’s that the race to 5G is on, and its future potential is unbounded.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Michael O’Rielly kicked off the workshop by reiterating the agency’s commitment to jumpstarting 5G deployment. Beyond making more spectrum available to “let innovators innovate,” the Chairman highlighted another essential component of 5G – infrastructure. For that, “more than just good spectrum policy is required” he said, citing the need for local governments to implement policies that facilitate the infrastructure deployments necessary to support 5G and noting that “the wireless future depends on wired connectivity in so many ways”. Commissioner O’Rielly echoed the need to reduce burdens on infrastructure siting.
Just as Verizon invested billions to be the first mobile carrier to deploy our world leading 4G LTE network, we plan to do the same for 5G. Sanyogita Shamsunder, Verizon’s Director of Wireless and Technology Strategy, outlined this commitment during the opening panel, and walked through Verizon’s experiences in early testing of 5G. She also lauded the work of our vendor partners in the 5G Technology Forum that we launched earlier this year. Forum partners Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, and Qualcomm were on the scene and provided eye-catching demos that offered a glimpse of the possibilities -- blazingly fast speeds and imperceptible lag times. For example, from inside the FCC in southwest Washington, DC, using 5G technology, Ericsson operated an excavator located 1300 miles away in Dallas, Texas without any delay between command and equipment response.
As we’ve outlined elsewhere, this is just the tip of the iceberg for 5G technology. One thing that all the panelists made clear was that we have not begun to imagine all the transformative applications on the 5G horizon.
The FCC’s workshop offered a tantalizing peek of the 5G future. Continued collaboration between technology leaders and government officials will help ensure that the right policies are in place to ensure that we move quickly and that the U.S. retains its leadership position as we move from 4G to 5G. Yesterday’s workshop was an important step – continue to watch this space as we move forward.