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Remarks of Acting Assistant Secretary Remaley at Mobile World Congress Los Angeles

Remarks of Evelyn Remaley
Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Mobile World Congress Los Angeles
Los Angeles, Calif.
October 27, 2021

--As Prepared for Delivery--

Thank you. It’s wonderful to be back at MWC, and to be with all of you in person.

We meet this week on the cusp of an historic opportunity.

The President has set a goal of connecting all Americans to high-speed, affordable Internet, and the Senate agreed, passing a bipartisan bill to invest $65 billion in broadband. NTIA supports the President’s call to connect every American, and we stand ready to do everything we can to meet that goal.

All of us here know that high-speed Internet isn’t a luxury – it’s essential. The pandemic revealed just how tough it can be when you don’t have access.

We’ve all experienced the ravages of the past 19 months. I know this because I’ve talked to so many of you about your experiences. Loved ones have been lost. Friends. Businesses have suffered. We continue to address the supply chain issues.

We took meetings with our children on our laps, worked to get them educated. We put them in pods – but more likely, online classes.

But for many Americans, that word we take for granted – online – wasn’t an option.

And within that group, I know, was one of our future wireless visionaries.

And she couldn’t get to school.  

Far too many Americans are still living in underserved communities.

We have seen the impact of the pandemic in multiple ways and now can more fully appreciate the import of meaningful connectivity to our daily lives and economy. We lost critical community anchors in shops and restaurants that boarded up during the pandemic because they didn’t have an online presence.

As we recover from COVID-19, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building back a better, more equitable economy where no one is left behind. That starts with ensuring every community is connected.

The investments we make in our broadband infrastructure will mean wired connections going deeper and further than ever before. For many rural communities, it will mean connectivity at hospitals and libraries; police and fire stations; schools, businesses and homes.

By connecting all of America, we will set a foundation that will enable advanced wireless services to be deployed to more parts of the country.

The 5G and 6G advances we’re hearing about at this conference can’t become a reality with so many Americans left behind.

Unlocking the future of telehealth, of smart agriculture, of the Internet of Things – that won’t happen if our communities aren’t connected.

We also need an American workforce that is well trained and digitally savvy, who can take these tools and drive progress in their communities and their industries.

I believe that with our efforts today, and over the next few years, we can power the innovative spirit of America for generations to come.

That’s why we see the wireless industry as an essential partner in our broadband expansion planning. NTIA wants to be able to leverage the lessons we learn now, so that we can also enable the next generation of advanced communications in these communities.

A fully connected country will allow us to achieve our shared vision in a more fundamental, efficient and equitable way.

Of course, we know the infrastructure conversation here goes well beyond wires. You have to think about cell towers, about the resilience of our telecom supply chain, and of course, about spectrum.

NTIA is working to ensure America’s continued leadership in spectrum policies. We are developing new tools, techniques and approaches that will allow all of us to share the benefits of efficient and effective spectrum use.

We must have a balanced approach to our spectrum resources that provides sufficient access for the services that drive economic growth, including 5G, WiFi, drones and, eventually, 6G broadband services.

These will be the foundational technologies that support new applications, new equipment ecosystems and new markets. 

These job-creating services will help the U.S. maintain its global economic and technological leadership, and they also will bring real improvements to Americans’ lives.

The importance of spectrum to our future means that we cannot rely on a haphazard approach in managing how we use it. There is too much at stake to take spectrum access for granted.

The Administration is developing a coordinated, national approach to spectrum use and planning, which is exactly what we need to meet the demand for spectrum now and in the future.

It will enable our forward-leaning vision for advanced communications, and ensure American leadership in 5G, 6G and beyond.

As part of that vision, NTIA has been working closely with federal agencies and the FCC to ensure that the wireless industry has the spectrum it needs to fully deploy 5G across the country.

You’re seeing the results right now with the successful auction of flexible-use licenses in the 3.45 GHz band.

The United States is leading the way in allocating mid-band spectrum for 5G, a direct result of collaboration between federal agencies, regulators and industry.

This year’s auction adds to the progress we’ve made with the CBRS spectrum, and the expected direction from Congress to identify sharing opportunities in the lower portion of the 3 GHz band.

At NTIA, we’re looking to build on our CBRS work by continuing to advance the science of spectrum sharing, and developing innovative mechanisms to allow for this new space between licensed and unlicensed spectrum to flourish.

Any national strategy must recognize the power of innovation to find new efficiencies and to improve security. You can see such an example in the wireless industry’s development of open, interoperable networks.

NTIA is fully supporting the development of these open networks, which can potentially increase competition and provide network operators with a more diverse range of trusted vendors of equipment and services. The resulting competition and innovation will improve overall supply chain resilience.

To advance the development and deployment of these networks, NTIA is driving cooperation with likeminded governments on policy options to promote 5G vendor diversity.

For example, at the recent Quad summit at the White House, which included leaders from Australia, India, Japan, the governments jointly affirmed the importance of secure and diverse 5G networks and committed to advancing approaches like Open RAN.

NTIA has also taken on the issue of security in the software supply chain.

In the coming weeks, stakeholders in NTIA’s long-running Software Bill of Materials process will release a series of documents that will mark the conclusion of their efforts.

These documents are the culmination of more than three years of work. We are extremely proud of the SBOM community, who took an obscure idea – that an “ingredients list” in software should be available – and made it a key part of the global agenda around software supply chains.

When a new vulnerability or risk is discovered, a Software Bill of Materials can help an organization realize whether they or their customers might be at risk.

Our stakeholders have developed foundational documents such as a “how to” guide to generating an SBOM, and completed a proof of concept in the healthcare sector. We are excited that the energy and auto sectors are also engaged in SBOM proofs of concept.

As we work to enable a more virtualized communications ecosystem and expand our 5G footprint, transparency in software will be an important building block for security.

The success of this multistakeholder process demonstrates the value of this approach to tackling key cybersecurity challenges. We look forward to working with the broad communications community to use this as a model for future engagements.

Before I close, I want to again reiterate the U.S. government’s endorsement of Doreen Bogdan-Martin for Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union.

Doreen has a vision for achieving worldwide digital connectivity through increased collaboration and a more accountable ITU. She has brought her vision to the ITU and the world as the director of the ITU Development Sector, and she has spent her career in the top echelons of international civil service.

She shares our vision for a more equitable, connected globe where security, trust are openness are not trade-offs. And she is a proven leader who has the experience and track record to succeed.

Please join me in supporting her candidacy, and let’s continue our rewarding partnership,

Together, we can lay the groundwork for the next era of American leadership and ingenuity. Thank you.