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Remarks of Assistant Secretary Redl at the White House 5G Summit

Remarks of David J. Redl​
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information
White House 5G Summit
Washington, D.C.
September 28, 2018

-- As Prepared for Delivery --

Thank you. It’s very exciting to be here. With today’s event, the Trump Administration is stating its continued commitment to putting America first in the race to 5G.

As a nation, we should take pride in the progress we’ve made so far. All of our nationwide mobile wireless service providers, and many regional and local ones, are moving forward with plans to deploy 5G networks and secure device deals.  Industry is on track to move from testing to launch in the next year to 18 months.

There are other indications of significant 5G innovation occurring within our borders. Our world-leading silicon industry is out front on chip designs, and multinational manufacturers are taking notice of our leadership, and looking to produce 5G equipment here in the United States.

In my time at Commerce, I’ve talked a lot about the potential of 5G to transform industries and usher in technologies that have so far only existed in our imaginations. 5G will greatly expand the capabilities of wireless networks, allowing for powerful broadband applications and nearly universal connectivity of people and machines.

But what does it actually mean for the American people?

First, 5G means major increases in capacity and download speeds. Crystal-clear, high-definition video applications will become standard. Virtual- and augmented-reality technologies will take a leap forward. Speeds that dwarf what you can now get at home will be available in the palm of your hand.

It means that latency, or delays in data transfers, will be all but eliminated. With no lag, it’s conceivable that doctors one day could use robotics and a 5G connection to perform surgery remotely. Drones and autonomous vehicles will become safer and more versatile. Aspects of manufacturing will be revolutionized.

And it means an even more connected world around us, for example unlocking the potential of the Internet of Things. Smart homes will be able to optimize their power and water usage. Smart cities will use sensors and real-time monitoring to become safer, healthier and more sustainable and fuel for innovation.

When 4G wireless networks were in development, we were excited about the prospect of higher speeds but couldn’t imagine the innovations that would develop – the growth of social media, ride sharing services, and home assistant devices to manage energy use, answer doorbells, and instantly serve up our favorite music. With 5G, we’re on the cusp of another era of invention unique to America’s technological prowess and entrepreneurial spirit.

Today we’re talking about the importance of America being first in 5G, but also the work ahead that needs to be done to get there. We have consensus on the goal, and we’re working in close collaboration with industry, government researchers, engineers and policymakers to set the right policies in place to meet 5G demand.

The Trump Administration is dedicated to ensuring America’s continued leadership in wireless technology, and the rollout of secure, ubiquitous 5G has been a priority for our nation. At NTIA, we have a team of engineers and researchers working hard to ensure there is sufficient spectrum to support the advance of 5G networks.

Expanding broadband infrastructure

5G deployment offers great promise in our work to promote broadband infrastructure deployment. Early on, this Administration looked to modernize federal reviews of telecommunications infrastructure projects, with the goal of spurring investment, speeding construction and decreasing costs.

NTIA and our colleagues at the Department of Agriculture are leading an interagency group that seeks to coordinate the federal government’s work to help expand broadband connectivity.

We’re making good progress. Our efforts are focused on three core areas: streamlining federal permitting, leveraging federal assets for broadband, and coordinating federal funding of broadband projects. This work will complement our ongoing programs to promote broadband deployment best practices through public workshops, webinars, and management of a state broadband leaders’ network.

If we truly want to bring 5G and its benefits to all Americans, we must continue to support the buildout of wireless and other broadband infrastructure. There are too many places in this country, especially in rural America, that lack the basic infrastructure that will be needed to enable 5G service.

We have data that shows this. But we are currently relying too much on the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 data, which only tells part of the story. If we want all Americans to have the kind of broadband access needed to compete in the modern world, we need to know the full story.

That’s why Congress directed NTIA to improve data associated with the national broadband map. At the beginning of the summer, NTIA asked for comments from the public on ways to increase the quality and accuracy of broadband availability data. We received 53 sets of comments indicating a variety of data sources and approaches that we can use to support these efforts.

We also met with a number of stakeholders. During these conversations, we heard from associations about how to gain access to data sets and information about where they are deployed. And we heard from companies that create data sets and aggregate this kind of information.

Our plan now is to take a phased approach to collecting the data we need to make a broadband availability map that shows the true picture of where we are. We will be working with states that already have collected broadband availability data, or had otherwise strong broadband programs. This will allow us to get the most value for the resources allocated to us by Congress.

By the end of the year we will be issuing a request for proposals for additional data, and a technology service provider that will help us integrate all of the data sources we can bring together.

Next steps to 5G

Perhaps the single most important action government can take to help lay a foundation for 5G is ensuring sufficient and flexible access to spectrum. If we make spectrum available, it propels wireless innovation and new services and capabilities for consumers.

NTIA, working closely with federal agencies that rely on spectrum to perform their missions, continues to coordinate with the Federal Communications Commission with the support of Congress to significantly increase commercial access to scores of frequencies across low, mid and high spectrum bands. 

At same time, the Trump Administration also recognizes we need to take a more comprehensive and forward-looking approach to spectrum management and policy, as we seek to address the growing spectrum needs from various commercial sectors and government and scientific missions. 

Finally, I’ll briefly mention a couple of additional areas that will be highlighted today in which collaboration between government and industry is vital -- and where NTIA is playing an important role.

The first is our efforts to support industry-led development and refinement of the global standards that already have begun to define how 5G will unfold. 

The other is our shared objective to ensure that America’s 5G networks are robust and secure. This is a priority of this administration, linked to the President’s National Security Strategy. We must get this right.

The next year will be critically important for our country. The decisions we’re making today will play a major role in shaping the next wave of our Internet-based economy. With the right planning, we can cement America’s leadership in wireless technology for decades to come.

I look forward to listening to the stakeholders gathered here today as you share your ideas and priorities. We have great resources to help us succeed.

We have an industry that has invested billions of dollars and is nearly ready to show off its new, powerful 5G networks. We have a government committed to spurring additional investment and balancing the needs of the nation’s spectrum users. And we have a nation full of technologists and entrepreneurs who are going to use this next-generation of connectivity to build products and services that will drastically change our lives.

Now we need to execute on our vision and deliver for the American people.  The global competition for 5G leadership will be intense, but I have every reason to be confident that together we will get the job done.