Wireless Needs To Be 10 to 100 Times Faster, Says FCC Chair
Proponents of the move to 5G wireless data speeds got a big boost from the government last week. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his support for a rapid move toward fifth-generation wireless technology at a speech at the National Press Club.
In his "The Future of Wireless: A Vision for U.S. Leadership in a 5G World" speech, Wheeler laid out a list of the advantages of moving to 5G communication infrastructure.
"Autonomous vehicles will be controlled in the cloud. Smart-city energy grids, transportation networks, and water systems will be controlled in the cloud. Immersive education and entertainment will come from the cloud," Wheeler said during his remarks. "Such futures, however, won’t come to pass unless the pathway to the cloud is low-latency, ultra-fast, and secure."
10 to 100 Times Faster than 4G
To realize those benefits, the nation’s communications infrastructure will need to be 10 to 100 times faster than the current technology, Wheeler said. "Latency needs to be less than one millisecond -- or less than one thousandth of a second -- to provide for real-time interactions," he said.
Implementing 5G technology on a nationwide scale will have other benefits as well such helping to make the Internet of Things a reality and making it easier to connect people living in rural areas to high-speed Internet. But the biggest benefits of 5G may not yet be fully understood, Wheeler said.
"If we've learned anything in the generational march through wireless connectivity, it is that we have always underestimated the innovation that would result from new generations of wireless networks," Wheeler said.
However, making that innovation a reality will take years. To accelerate the move to 5G, Wheeler said he intends to propose new rules that would make parts of the high-band spectrum available to companies to deploy such technologies. Wheeler said he plans to call a vote on the proposal on July 14.
First Out of the Gate
The high-band spectrum provides large swaths of spectrum capable of generating super-fast data rates with low latency. That part of the spectrum is now being made available thanks to technological advances in computing and antennas.
If Wheeler's proposal is approved next month, the U.S. would be the first country to open the high-band spectrum up to the deployment of 5G technologies, he said. "And that's damn important because it means U.S. companies will be first out of the gate."
Other countries, on the other hand, are taking a more cautious approach toward the high-band spectrum and 5G, aiming to create more fully developed strategies before jumping into implementation. That approach would be unnecessarily slow, Wheeler said.
"The future has a way of inventing itself," he said. "Turning innovators loose is far preferable to expecting committees and regulators to define the future."