The demand for wireless data has never been greater. With 5G changing the way we live, work, and play, things like streaming shows, video chatting, remote work, and telemedicine, are all faster and more available. This also means that demand for data and the demand for the backbone of wireless networks—spectrum—is only increasing.
Spectrum is a finite resource. As our wireless usage continues to rise, the future of our innovation, such as smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and the internet of things (IoT), depends on access to more spectrum and adopting a national spectrum strategy to benefit all Americas. The benefits of a national spectrum strategy also include meeting the demand of increased data, keeping wireless affordable, and increasing broadband accessibility to bridge the digital divide.
Here are some things to keep in mind when considering a national spectrum strategy:
Everyday life depends on meeting the skyrocketing demand for wireless
We need a spectrum pipeline. Growth in mobile data traffic doubled in the past year alone. According to Accenture, U.S. networks are supporting more data traffic today than from 2010 to 2017 combined! In fact, while mobile traffic has increased by 3,543%, the spectrum to support it has only gone up 117%. Without more licensed, exclusive-use spectrum, it will be hard to keep up with the growth of everyday wireless usage. This shortage threatens innovation that has the potential to transform the economy and tackle pressing issues like climate change.
Use Case: Smart Cities Are Utilizing 5g to Solve Some of Their Most Difficult Problems
Los Angeles is in full-force preparation for the 2028 Summer Olympics, expanding 5G networks and implementing a regional data exchange that governments and groups can use to share information on traffic patterns and environmental conditions.
Affordable wireless is changing the game for increasing connectivity
We need to modernize government policies and procedures to ensure spectrum is optimally used. America is one of the most affordable countries in the world for wireless services and the affordability of mobile broadband has increased. Affordable prices makes wireless an ideal solution for connectivity, one that only increases demand. Addressing the availability of certain spectrum bands within a national spectrum strategy can help Americans benefit from the, “global economies of scale that produce lower-cost service and lower-cost devices,” according to Rysavy Research.
Use Case: 5G Unlocks Telemedicine for the Masses
The use of 5G and spectrum has dramatically expanded access to medical care. Telemedicine technology connects those that cannot afford transportation to appointments or those physically unable to leave their homes to essential medical care.
Increasing broadband accessibility helps bridge the digital divide
Modernizing government policies and procedures of spectrum use can also ensure increased wireless access to help bride the digital divide. Over the last year, there has been tremendous growth in broadband connectivity in part due to the increase and availability of a new alternative, fixed wireless access (FWA), which uses exclusive-use licensed spectrum. FWA is proving an easy and cost-effective way to help close the digital divide. With the future of education, work, and opportunity online, we must widen the reach of high-quality wireless services and bridge the digital divide.
Use Case: Spectrum Opens Agricultural Innovation
Farming communities are hungry to take advantage of connectivity in rural areas, away from cities. With 5G, they can monitor soil, crops, and moisture, and utilize that data to better support America’s agricultural strength.
How we use 5G and spectrum in 2023 (and beyond) is limitless, as long as we have the right spectrum policy in place. To ensure America’s continued advancement and viability of wireless use, we need a national spectrum strategy that includes a schedule of spectrum auctions and modernized government policies and procedures to ensure spectrum can efficiently bring these benefits to the American people.