The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a 5G action plan it stated would help place the country at the forefront of developing and deploying the technology.

Announced during the White House 5G Summit, the FCC’s 5G FAST Plan contains policies covering spectrum, infrastructure and updating regulations. In an address to the meeting, FCC chair Ajit Pai said the steps contained in the plan “are critical to advancing 5G”.

Pai used his address to reiterate the benefits leadership in 5G deployments would offer the US: “An Accenture study pegs 5G’s potential at 3 million new jobs, $275 billion in private investment and $500 billion in new economic growth,” he noted. The FCC chair also explained 5G will enable critical new services including smart transportation, remote healthcare and improvements to the agriculture industry.

“We need to seize the opportunities of 5G,” Pai said, adding: “time is of the essence”, because countries including China and South Korea are also in the race to be the first to 5G.

In a timely example, US operator Verizon today (1 October) activated 5G services in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, albeit using its own proprietary 5G standard (5GTF). In a statement, the operator said it was aided by favourable policies by state and local leaders “who embraced innovation and developed a strategic vision for” the technology.

Past lessons
Pai noted a leading role in 4G had positioned the US as a key driver of innovation, leading to the birth of the app economy and generating “an additional $100 billion in annual GDP”. He argued the role of private industry in the country’s 4G success means the same route should be taken in 5G.

The 5G FAST Plan summarises current FCC efforts including plans to make additional spectrum available across licensed and unlicensed bands; steps to accelerate infrastructure deployments; and moves to update regulations including the controversial decision to drop net neutrality regulations.

“US leadership in 5G technology is a national imperative for economic growth and competitiveness,” Pai said.

At the same meeting, David Redl, assistant secretary for Communications and Information at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), noted ensuring sufficient access to spectrum is “perhaps the single most important action government can take to help lay a foundation for 5G”.

He pointed to progress the NTIA is making in terms of helping to guide development of standards, streamlining permit processes and funding broadband deployments.

However, Redl also noted clearer information on current broadband coverage is required and detailed plans to step up data collection to form “a broadband availability map that shows the true picture of where we are”.