Press Release

#SubCommTech Examines 5G and the Future of Mobile Broadband


Chairman Blackburn (R-TN) and Vice Chairman Lance (R-NJ) share a laugh as the hearing gets underway

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), held a hearing today on the potential economic, technological, and societal impacts of fifth generation (5G) mobile broadband.

In her statement submitted for the record, Chairman Blackburn highlighted the promise of the 5G revolution, “The potential benefits include: enhanced mobile broadband that can provide speeds that are 10 to 100 times faster than what exists today; ultra-low latency communications that are necessary for mission-critical applications like autonomous vehicles and remote surgery; and the massive machine-to-machine communications that constitute the “Internet of Things.” According to Cisco, there will be nearly 50 billion IoT devices connected by the year 2020. Taken together, the applications of 5G promise to revolutionize manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, city management, power generation and distribution, as well as law enforcement and emergency response. “

Full Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) discussed overcoming obstacles to unleashing the necessary spectrum for 5G, “None of applications enabled by 5G technology will be possible without adequate spectrum, and all the rhetoric around the race to 5G will be for nothing if we do not update the Communications Act to allow the Federal Communications Commission to deposit upfront payments from prospective spectrum auction bidders directly with the Treasury. Current law prevents the Commission from doing so. I want to applaud the Chairman of this Subcommittee for including provisions in the FCC Reauthorization bill to allow the Commission to do so.”

Responding to Chairman Blackburn’s question about 5G’s potential impact on manufacturing, David Broecker, CEO of Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, commented, “If we don’t do this, manufacturing will go elsewhere. It will continue to go outside the United States because it is a global opportunity for companies to go other places, to set up new manufacturing and manufacturing of the future. I think 5G enables us to become even more competitive than we have. When you look at the future of the innovation that’s possible, we can capture that, making it here in the great states that all of you represent.”

Jonathan Adelstein, President and CEO, Wireless Infrastructure Association, discussed what 5G will bring to rural areas, “What’s most significant is the economic development opportunity for rural areas. Suddenly rural areas have at their fingertips vast amounts of data. They can both communicate and receive as anybody anywhere in the world, if they can have that level of technology available, if it gets deployed to rural America, which we hope it can as quickly as possible. There’s opportunity for jobs to be located there, for people that are visiting to stay longer because they can get their work done there, for new businesses to locate there, where it’s a better quality of life and lower cost of living, lower cost of doing business. It’s really an opportunity to revolutionize the way that business is done in rural America.”

Dr. Coleman Bazelon, Principal, The Brattle Group, noted in his written statement the infrastructure requirements to deploy the required spectrum for 5G, “Unlike the previous technological advancements, 5G combines new technologies with a new architectural model of how spectrum is deployed. The architecture of a robust 5G network will require spectrum in a variety of bands: “low-band” spectrum below 1 gigahertz for wide-area and long-range communications; “mid-band” spectrum between 1 and 6 gigahertz for applications that would benefit from a combination of coverage and capacity; and “high-band” spectrum for short range communications requiring fast data rates and low latency. To effectively use these spectrum bands, a 5G network will require the deployment of millions of small cells along with a growing number of macro cells. All three pieces of this “spectrum trifecta” will be crucial for the successful deployment of 5G networks.”

Chris Pearson, President, 5G Americas, responded to #SubCommTech Vice Chairman Leonard Lance’s question on the 5G progress being made in the U.S. versus other countries, saying, “We’re making progress in the United States and I think we need to do more. If you look at most of these countries, they are very proactive and aggressive in their planning processes and where they’re directing their industry to go, and their governments to go, with the mid-bands. Specifically, I’d say the 3.5 bands. Recently, we’ve made some steps here with the CBRS band to improve maybe the opportunity for investment in that, whether it’s going to be LTE or 5G. That’s helpful but I do think we need to do more in the United States, if you look at the competition from around the world and what they’re doing and the economies of scale that are going to happen in that band.”

A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the hearing can be found online HERE.

Press Release