President Donald Trump is raising more than a few eyebrows, following his decision to call out American companies on Twitter to step up efforts to bring “5G, and even 6G” technology to the United States. Noting the expected groundbreaking nature of the networking standard, the president indicated that the companies will either step up or get left behind and that there’s “no reason” the country should fall behind.
The commander-in-chief followed up the initial tweet with a second post, highlighting the importance of cutting-edge technology in the modern world and suggesting that the US doesn't need to block out "currently more advanced technologies." Instead, the country can win the 5G battle through competition and "must be the leader" in everything, Mr. Trump says.
A fundamental misunderstanding
Unsurprisingly, President Trump’s 5G tweet has generated some blowback but the most impactful criticism may not stem from the usual suspects but from users with a deeper understanding of the technology.
More tech-savvy users called out the president, primarily ridiculing an apparent lack of understanding about the networking technology in question. A common thread among commenters centered around the fact that while 5G is certainly well on the way to rolling out widely, 6G is likely to be at least a decade away. The first 3GPP Standalone 5G NR Standards driving advances in connectivity were only just finalized near the middle of last year.
The rollout of 5G networking is also expected to be much slower than for 4G LTE or previous standards, taking until between 2020 or 2022 to become widely available according to current estimates.
Once the technology does become widely available -- if speed, latency, and bandwidth expectations hold up -- still further time will be required before a sum of all possible use cases can be brought to bear. 5G is expected to usher in a new wave of smart cars, industry or city-scale IoT innovation, and more. That’s down primarily to the improvements in MIMO that will arrive with the widespread rollout and the reduced latency, allowing many more users and critical uses than 4G LTE.
Other users also pointed to now-defunct Net Neutrality regulations, brought to an end by Trump administration appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a bid to draw attention to possible impacts from the commissions step away from regulation. Respondents voiced concern that the measure could ultimately result in American consumers being priced out of the benefits, particularly since 5G is expected to bring much-needed competition for traditional providers.
This should not be a surprise
President Trump's slight gaffe in referencing 6G is unlikely to be surprising, given recent technology-related hearings conducted by other elected officials in Washington. In particular, meetings between representatives of any political party and senior executives at Google, Facebook, and Twitter have repeatedly showcased a fundamental disconnect between the technology industry and legislators. On matters as important as data privacy or political influencing, the hardest-hitting questions have predominantly fallen well short in terms of both depth and scope.
I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind. There is no reason that we should be lagging behind on.........
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2019