Jonathan Spalter

5G is WIRED Wireless

In case you missed it, there was an important announcement from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai this week about a new $9 billion fund to accelerate 5G in rural America.

Smart. Prescient. Necessary.

You might think of 5G as “the future,” but in reality, this next generation technology has already arrived in American cities and will ramp up in 2020 and beyond.

5G will not only enable transformative new services — the Internet of Things, connected cars, telehealth and precision agriculture — it will create economic productivity and jobs.

But we have to get the rollout right.

That’s why this major federal investment is going to be critical to America’s collective 5G future. The single best way to avoid opening a chasm-like 5G digital divide in the next few years will be a down payment on strong public/private partnerships that will transport superfast 5G traffic.

And what will carry 5G traffic? America’s wired communications networks.

The truth is 5G is only “wireless” for the last mile. A key predicate to bringing the transformative power of 5G to hard-to-reach rural communities is the extension of wired networks deeper into rural areas where we must scale our communications infrastructure and lay lots (and lots) of fiber.

Bottom line: winning the 5G race and bringing the instantaneous connectivity of a secure, ubiquitous wired backbone (sorry, can’t be done with satellite technology) will take smart and coordinated public policy and committed government partners via the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, smart broadband maps, and the FCC’s new 5G Fund.

This is precisely how we drive a truly connected future across rural America and support the broadband providers digging trenches, pulling fiber and connecting people to the world’s most modern, high-speed communications network.