As 4G LTE is becoming just as common as the generation before it, many are starting to look towards the fifth generation of wireless data, fittingly called 5G. Code/Mobile in California is bringing the topic back into the spotlight. Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel showcased her perspective on 5G, saying the U.S. government needs to hand over some of the wireless spectrum it's keeping to itself.
The wireless industry uses the nation's airwaves in order to provide signals for its customers. Companies have always purchased additional licenses of the spectrum as they need it to upgrade their existing services. If 5G networks are going to happen soon, the government might have to give up some of its stockpile of airwaves. Federal departments claim a large portion of the spectrum and use their sole access to it in order to do myriad tasks ranging from defense to emergency services.
Rosenworcel thinks it's time for this practice to change. She said on Thursday, "We doled out those airwaves to the government authorities when spectrum wasn't quite so scarce." It is possible that portions of the airwaves given to the government would serve the public better if returned to the private industry. Rosenworcel is not alone in her assessment. There is a rising interest in her cause from both sides of the party divide.
The United States was an international leader of the 4G LTE wireless standard, and many are hoping to continue onto 5G from that position. To illustrate just how advanced the nation has become in terms of wireless signals, recall that only 5% of the human population lives in the U.S., and then consider the fact that one of every three 4G devices reside with that 5%. Despite the success with this generation of networks, 5G is going to be difficult to quickly access. It is expected that the advent of 5G will introduce negligible latencies and speeds that outclass current 4G networks by as much as 100 times. The new signals will also be powerful enough to support a minimum of 50 billion devices that need to access the internet. In essence, 5G is certainly the future, and a bright one at that, but it is no small undertaking.
Rosenworcel, is looking forward to making changes with how the government is handling spectrum as an FCC member, saying, "In the next few weeks at the FCC we are going to vote on the rule-making that identifies some of those high bands of spectrum and to figure out how to push forward on 5G." Although no one country has been the leader of two generations of wireless networks consecutively, Rosenworcel has made it clear she isn't going to let the past take over the future.
Still, if the U.S. is looking to lead the world into 5G, the nation will have to plan efficiently to overtake Asian countries, particularly South Korea, Japan, and China, all of whom have expressed interest in early upgrades.