Issues

To Stay Globally Competitive, The U.S. Needs To Embrace 5G

By Kish Rajan

Walk down the street in any American city and it’s easy to see that we are already deep into the wireless age. Ninety-five percent of Americans now own a cellphone, and we are using our devices not only to communicate but to watch videos, order cars, handle banking and much more.

But we are only beginning to understand what will become of our insatiable appetite for next-generation connectivity. In the past two years alone, data traffic has increased 238%. With the advent of the internet of things (IoT) – which will connect cars, household appliances and even pets – that data usage is going to grow exponentially.

In order to handle this traffic, America must get ahead of the curve by upgrading our network to 5G. The state-of-the-art 5G wireless network promises to handle 100 times more capacity and move data 10 times faster than the current 4G LTE network most prevalent in the U.S.

However, according to a recent study, America is lagging behind both China and South Korea when it comes to 5G deployment – which is a potential big problem for our country.

Why? Well, there’s more at stake here than just lightning-fast video downloads. 5G will create enormous economic growth. Accenture estimates that 5G could lead to $275 billion in investments, 3 million new jobs and $500 billion in GDP growth. Faster wireless networks will position us to see incredible innovation in smart-cities technology, healthcare and education.

To date, the U.S. has been the global leader in innovation – in large part due to our leadership in the wireless space – but there’s a real risk America will lose our position to China and South Korea if we lose the race to 5G.

The economic benefit of leading the move to the next level of network speed and capacity is not fiction. History shows that 5G will provide tremendous economic benefit. America led the way on 4G technology, resulting in $100 billion in economic impact. We took that lead position from the European Union, which had been ahead of the game on 2G. Losing that front-runner status led to job losses and contractions in the telecom hardware and software industries in Europe.

We can’t afford to have the same thing happen in the U.S.

Bringing 5G technology, and all of its benefits, to market requires the deployment of new infrastructure, namely a new network of small wireless nodes called “small cells.” Small cells are about the size of a pizza-box and are most commonly attached to existing infrastructure, such as utility poles and streetlights. In order to lay the foundation for 5G, we will need small cells deployed in mass to optimize the strength and reach of the coverage.

To roll out these new networks, municipalities and states must be forward-thinking. We can’t just default to the regulations established in the past that slow the deployment of small cells. We must rethink regulations to allow for 5G networks to spring up all over the country so every community can benefit.

If not, there’s a real risk we will not only fall behind China and South Korea, but that within the U.S., we will be creating a new type of digital divide.

Cities such as Sacramento and Long Beach in California are aggressively moving forward with 5G. Officials in Long Beach hope that the new network will help bridge the city’s digital divide and attract new businesses. These emerging cities may find themselves attracting the Googles and Amazons of tomorrow as larger cities drag their feet on 5G.

While that might be good for some, it would be better for entrepreneurs everywhere to have access to the 5G network. If we don’t put ourselves in a position to lead on 5G, we could feel the effects in the not-too-distant future.

Why The Congressional Review Act Is A Complete Charade

“Nearly every day brings new stories of children being tracked, Russians being indicted, and online-fueled hate exploding into real-world violence – all while the big tech platforms that enable this chaos report record earnings and shrug off Congressional oversight without breaking a sweat,” writes Mike Montgomery for Multichannel News. “The American people are demanding comprehensive action to rein in these giant platforms, protect our privacy and permanently keep cyberspace open and free – with 80% believing the big platforms haven’t done enough to secure their networks. Nearly 60% are concerned the government won’t do enough to solve the problem. Yet, amazingly, the only internet bill on the agenda in Congress is a backward-looking resolution that will actually reduce our privacy protections.”

Here’s why Montgomery calls the Congressional Review Act, which is being billed as a net neutrality-protection measure, “a complete charade.”

 

Sacramento Leads The 5G Way

Mobile Phone Tower

This story originally appeared in Fox & Hounds.

By Kish Rajan

Later this year, the country’s first 5G-capable city will come online. 5G will enable residents to download a full movie in under 10 seconds, enable gamers to play multiplayer video games from their smartphones with zero lag, and connect millions of home appliances – 5G will even connect our pets.

There is little doubt that 5G will change what we think of as being truly “connected,” but who will get it first? If you guessed the usual suspects – Silicon Valley, San Francisco – you would be wrong.

Verizon has named Sacramento the first of 3 to 5 cities where it plans to launch 5G service later this year. And while Sacramento doesn’t leap to mind as an innovative metropolis, the city has positioned itself to be amongst the first to roll out a future-defining 5G network.

Over the past two years alone, we have seen data traffic increase a whopping 238%. There are currently 262 million smartphones in use across the US, in addition to another 180 million connected devices (i.e. fitness trackers). According to projections, our insatiable appetite for wireless is just getting started.

This reality is why the move to 5G must happen quickly. 5G networks can handle 100 times more capacity and move data 10 times faster than the current 4G network. 5G’s speed and capacity is what will enable the network to keep up with current demand, while also powering new innovations such as autonomous vehicles and smart energy grids.

Further, this technology has the potential to supercharge California’s economy. A report released by Accenture last year estimated that 5G will result in $275 billion in investments, create three million new jobs, and grow GDP by over $500 billion nationwide.

Sacramento is leading the way by adopting common sense policy and embracing next generation infrastructure deployment. 5G depends on the robust deployment of “small cells.” Small cells are small, low-powered antennas – sometimes called nodes – usually about the size of a pizza box, attached to existing infrastructure such as utility poles or streetlights.

While 5G is fast, its higher frequencies don’t travel as well, which means network density is an absolute necessity. For example, the Golden 1 Center will require dozens of small cells.

It’s time for others in the state to learn from Sacramento and embrace the future – starting with small cells.

Unblocking 5G: New FCC Rules Make it Easier to Build Fast Networks

By Kish Rajan

Source: IBT

The Federal Communications Commission last week voted to kick-start 5G wireless networks in the United States by exempting them from some reviews that hinder installation.

It’s about time.

So far, the U.S. lags far behind the world leader — China — at getting 5G networks up and running. “There is a worldwide race to lead in 5G, and other nations are poised to win,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel acknowledged in January. It’s an embarrassing place for the country that invented the internet. But more than that, our hesitancy to streamline the process for installing vital infrastructure is costing us money, jobs and security.

Today, we’re coasting along on 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks. Experts warned as far back as 2011 that 4G would be maxed out within four years because data demand was growing too fast to be accommodated by 4G bandwidth. And it’s not slowing. In the U.S., data usage will be seven times greater in 2021 than it was in 2016. By 2020, more than 50 billion devices and 212 billion sensors will be connected to wireless networks. All this data is making 4G networks crowded, slow and spotty.

The annoying buffering while streaming video, the random dead zones and the snail-like pace of sending photos over text can be attributed to our inefficient and overwhelmed 4G networks. The more people using it, the slower it goes, which is why it’s often difficult to do anything on your phone in Los Angeles unless you’re on Wi-Fi.

5G networks are much more efficient at using spectrum. They’ll increase capacity 100 times or more over 4G and be able to move data at least 10 times faster, allowing for all sorts of real-time applications. And that’s just the beginning. 5G is vital to improved safety, reliability and economic development.

According to a 2017 Accenture report, smart cities and Internet of Things (IoT) improvements led by 5G capabilities have the potential to create $160 billion in benefits and savings. Then there’s the economic boost of building 5G networks. Accenture predicts that 5G could result in $275 billion in investments, create 3 million new jobs nationally and grow GDP by $500 billion.

Small cells can be easier and cheaper to install than traditional cell towers, but they rely on density to provide fast, reliable data service. A college football stadium, for example, needs 40 to 60 cells to provide full coverage. Unfortunately, building a 5G network isn’t as easy as it should be because there’s no federal standard. That means each state and municipality has its own series of complicated, confusing and contradictory rules covering installation.

Industry is prepared to deploy hundreds of thousands of small cells on utility poles throughout the country. But it can take as long as a year, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, to navigate through cumbersome local and state regulations designed to govern 200-foot cell towers. These unobtrusive small cell solutions simply should not be compared to traditional cell towers.

The FCC ruling is a good start, as it will eliminate some of the repetitive and unnecessary review processes. In fact, Accenture estimates it will save $1.6 billion. But states need to get on board, too. It’s in their own best interests and those of their constituents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of American households now are cellphone only, which means they rely entirely on wireless networks for service. That explains why 80 percent of 911 calls are mobile. 5G networks will be a boon to first responders — and the people seeking help.

In California, despite being the national epicenter of innovation, we’re lagging behind. Last year a bill that would have helped the 5G industry was stopped due to concerns from local municipalities about installation of the cells. While local governments’ concerns most certainly need to be addressed, we can’t allow the 5G conversion to become mired in red tape.

It’s time for California to embrace 5G technology. As the world’s sixth-largest economy, California cannot simply keep pace with the rest of the country; it must instead set the national and global example. Let’s get to work.

Kish Rajan is chief evangelist for CALinnovates.

CALinnovates Statement on 5G Access

A statement from CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery:

“In today’s booming digital economy, fast and reliable internet connectivity is an absolute necessity, as nearly every industry job depends on it. Keeping up with the global sprint to 5G will mean the difference between U.S. innovation surging or falling behind. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr’s common-sense approach to removing regulatory roadblocks will promote 5G access for every American. It’s about time.”

NGA Future and the Future of Tech & Government

Tim Blute Is Helping Government Move At The Speed Of Technology

Every day it seems like there are more things we can do on our phones — order anything delivered right to our homes, unlock our cars and even transfer money to a friend in an instant.

But if you’ve ever tried to navigate any public services on your phone or even on a laptop, you know that government moves at a much slower speed. Most actions still require an in-person visit or sifting through a dizzying array of paperwork. And when it comes to things like keeping up with cybersecurity or regulating self-driving cars, the government is still far behind the technology industry.

Tim Blute is hoping to change that. As director for the newly created NGA Future within the National Governors Association, Blute will be working with state governments, advising them about how emerging technologies can help them make government more efficient.

CALinnovates’ Chief Evangelist Kish Rajan sat down with Blute in his D.C. office to discuss technology frustrations, new innovations and how the Cajun Army could get some help during the next natural disaster.

 

Net Neutrality Redux: Americans Want Certainty; See Tech Giants and ISPs in Similar Light

Sixty-Two Percent of Americans Are Either Unsure or Believe Tech Companies and ISPs Are about the Same When It Comes to Protecting Privacy

San Francisco, CA, December 11, 2017 – After more than a decade of squabbling over so-called Net Neutrality rules, Americans want the issue settled once and for all to create certainty, according to a new survey by technology advocacy group CALinnovates.

Sixty-one percent of Americans, for example, report that creating regulatory certainty is important for the future of the internet and innovation.

But underlying that desire to settle the issue, according to the survey, is a growing sense that the technology companies driving the net neutrality debate aren’t different from their internet service provider opponents. The survey of 1,116 Americans found that:

  • Only slightly more than 1 in 3 Americans saw a difference between tech companies such as Google and Facebook and ISPs such as Verizon when it came to protecting their privacy. In fact, 62 percent reported that they are about the same or are not sure.
  • When it came to which companies they are more likely to trust, ISPs such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast (20%) were slightly ahead of tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter (18%). Overall, 50 percent of Americans said they trust or distrust them about equally.
  • And when it came to which of the sectors had the most to gain from net neutrality, it was again even. Sixteen percent of Americans thought tech companies because they want to maintain access as cheaply as possible, while the same amount said ISPs because they don’t want rules imposed on them.

“Americans intuitively understand that this never-ending game of policy pingpong over net neutrality must come to an end so consumers and the tech ecosystem can move on and focus fully on making magic,” said Mike Montgomery, Executive Director of CALinnovates. “With yet another FCC vote ahead, it’s time to bring this to a conclusion so we can get on with the business of innovating and delivering services consumers want.”

What the survey data reflects is the issues’ complexity and Americans’ struggle to understand its impact. Nearly the same number of Americans said they don’t understand the issue (45 percent) as said they do (48 percent).

But even if many don’t completely grasp net neutrality , they are looking for leadership from Washington to sort it out once and for all. And whatever happens, 82 percent of Americans want the FCC, which is slated to vote on net neutrality rules shortly, to be transparent about the proposed rule changes in advance of a vote.

The CALinnovates survey of 1,116 Americans was conducted from Nov. 27-Nov. 30 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

ABOUT CALINNOVATES

CALinnovates is a non-partisan technology advocacy coalition of tech companies, founders, funders and nonprofits.

Congress Must Answer the Call for Net Neutrality

A statement from CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery:

“Hopefully this puts to rest the FCC’s recurring role in this decade-plus long tragicomedy and forces Congress to deliver a lasting solution that will provide innovators and consumers the clarity, certainty and protections they require to navigate the digital era in which we live.

“In releasing the white copy rules for public review three weeks before the Commission’s vote, Chairman Pai has removed a lingering opaqueness that has obscured the openness the public deserves. Such transparency is far overdue at the 83-year-old FCC.

“Americans overwhelmingly favor a permanent law over regulations that can be changed from administration to administration. The power – and responsibility – to make those rules sits unquestionably on the shoulders of Congress. Despite ongoing Congressional gridlock, legislators must answer today’s call to develop clear, bipartisan rules that guarantee bright line protections.”

The Personal Enterprise Economy Lets Us All Be Entrepreneurs

By Kish Rajan

Imagine setting out to be a wedding photographer or a dog trainer as little as 10 years ago. These kinds of jobs required enormous effort to get off the ground. Often people working as sole proprietors had to not only be great at their jobs, they had to be marketers and book keepers as well. It was enough of a barrier to keep plenty of people in unfulfilling, and often low paying, jobs.

Today that’s changing. Platforms like Thumbtack give these kinds of professionals a digital space where they can easily start their businesses. Thumbtack brings the customer leads to the pros and then facilitates payments handling both the marketing and the book keeping.

That means that people who might have previously been afraid to follow their dreams can now start their own businesses. People in dead-end jobs can find ways to forge their own path.

Technological advances have enabled people to turn their passions into their livelihoods by making it easier to connect with customers. Now, benefits, licensing and other necessities of doing business need to follow suit.

Postmates is having a similar effect in the restaurant industry.

A decade ago, starting a small bakery or restaurant was an almost insane endeavor. Margins at food businesses are notoriously thin and while the right location can get you plenty of foot traffic, it can also cost more than many budding entrepreneurs can afford.

With Postmates, a small, out of the way restaurant has as much of a chance to thrive as one in a better location. As long as a Postmates driver can get there, the restaurant can attract online diners who want food delivered to their homes.

We hear a lot about how automation is hurting jobs but we hear a lot less about how technology is helping people who are building businesses in the service industry. This is a regular topic of discussion between the tech industry and members of the California Legislative Technology and Innovation Caucus.

The truth is that the nature of work has been changing for many years—long before companies like Uber and Airbnb came along. While layoffs were once a big problem for people who worked in manufacturing, today more people are quitting than getting fired. While politicians might bluster about returning to a mid-century economy, workers on the ground are quickly adjusting to the new reality.

What are often called gig economy companies are making up the difference. I prefer to call this sector the personal enterprise economy because what it’s really doing is giving everyone, no matter what your skill, a new way to build a business.

On Thumbtack, for example, two-thirds of the professionals on the platform work full time. That means these aren’t people scrambling to make ends meet from a second job. They are entrepreneurs who have built their own businesses often doing what they love. The service is available in all but one county in the United States making it a truly democratizing force.

These new technology platforms are giving people new ways to work and creating new opportunities. To pretend they are actually the forces destroying jobs is misread the tea leaves.

But we can do more to help people in this new economy succeed.

As we move into the future of work, government and businesses need to think about how to help workers succeed in the new economy. Benefits need to be decoupled from corporations. Licensing should not be tied to a specific small municipality. Professionals should be able to easily ply their trade across country lines. And training and retraining need to become high priority.

We are just at the beginning of this conversation but it’s crucial that we continue talking—and listening to new perspectives. That’s why tomorrow, CALinnovates, along with TechNet, Senator Cannella and Assemblymember Gray, is hosting the inaugural Valley to Valley Forum at UC Merced.

If You Build It … 5G Networks Will Make Life Better

By Kish Rajan

U.S. consumers like to think we have the best of everything when it comes to the internet — didn’t we build it?

But we are lagging far behind other countries when it comes to building 5G networks. China just this month set a new industry record when it exceeded a throughput of 19 Gbps in 5G trials, on the way to a nationwide rollout of 5G by 2020.

5G-based technologies can have a vast impact on mobile connectivity in densely-populated areas and on the Internet of Things. Mobile data traffic worldwide is almost 800 million times higher than 15 years ago. By 2020, more than 50 billion devices and 212 billion sensors will be connected to network services.

Right now, China is on the cutting edge of 5G technology. Why aren’t we seeing the same in the U.S.? While several states are flirting with 5G networks, there’s no policy — and seemingly no interest — in getting one up and running nationwide.

And yet 5G can unlock enormous economic growth, help grow new businesses and jobs, improve transportation, save energy and greatly improve our infrastructure. According to an Accenture report, IoT improvements have the potential to create $160 billion in benefits and savings. Then there’s the economic boost of just building 5G networks. Accenture predicts that 5G could result in $275 billion in investments, creating 3 million new jobs nationally and growing GDP by $500 billion.

But nothing will happen unless we encourage the growth of 5G networks and eliminate outdated regulations. 5G requires 10 to 100 times more small cell antennas than a 4G network. Many municipalities are resisting them with long wait times for permits, unreasonable fees and conflicting regulations.

These small cells, about the size of a briefcase, typically are installed on utility poles. They have less range than a typical tower, but serve more users faster. They are easier and cheaper to install than large cell towers, and rely on density to provide fast data service. A college football stadium, for example, needs 40 to 60 of them to provide full coverage.

Virginia has made the most progress with new rules that make building a 5G network easier. Small cell antennas now are allowed statewide on lamp posts and utility poles. California, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana and Iowa are all looking at similar bills. Washington State is considering a bill that would streamline permitting and cap fees as a way to lay the groundwork for 5G networks there.

We also need national standards for using unlicensed spectrum to ensure a high quality of service and low interference. Broadband spectrum unlicensed by the FCC can be used by wireless operators as a relief valve for data traffic to speed up clogged pipes.

But for now, patchwork local regulations and the lack of a concerted, consistent national effort to build 5G networks mean U.S. consumers will be stuck with an outdated technology while we struggle to improve phone service and the backbone for smart cities, more efficient agriculture and even self-driving cars.

 

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