The Trump Administration and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are moving forward with plans that would help rural America with Internet connectivity, potentially boosting commerce for agriculture.
During an announcement at the White House on April 12, President Donald Trump and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai laid out the vision for the “race to 5G,” along with a Rural Digital Opportunity Fund plan.
President Trump said during his comments that moving from the current 4G cellular network to 5G will help farmers be more productive, make manufactures be more competitive, while creating a better healthcare system.
“It will transform the way our citizens work, learn, communicate and travel,” Trump said.
FCC plans to hold its third 5G spectrum auction on December 10, 2019. The auction would sell 3,400 megahertz in three different spectrum bands at one time. It would be the largest auction of 5G spectrum with two prior auctions only making 1,550 megahertz of spectrum commercially available.
“For those of you who are not wireless experts, that is a lot of spectrum,” Pai said.
Currently, FCC has been moving forward with the Facilitate America’s Superiority in 5G Technology plan, which includes three components:
- Pushing more spectrum—the airwaves that enable communications—into the marketplace
- Promoting 5G wireless infrastructure
- Modernizing outdated regulations
As Pai and Trump noted there is a race to 5G, with much of the competition coming from China. Cisco projects that within three years the amount of 5G connections in North America will be twice the projected rate in Asia. Currently, the U.S. is the global leader in commercial 5G deployments, according to CTIA, a trade org representing the U.S. wireless communications industry.
“The race to 5G is a race America must win, and it’s a race, frankly, that our great companies are now involved in. We’ve given them the incentive they need. It’s a race that we will win,” Trump added.
In addition to the 5G developments, FCC is also going to invest $20.4 billion into high-speed broadband networks across rural America during a 10 year period. The money would come from a yet to be created Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Funding would go to a reverse auction to service providers that will deploy infrastructure providing up to gigabit-speed broadband in areas of the country most in need of connectivity.
“This money will extend high-speed broadband to up to 4 million homes and small businesses in rural America. These next-generation networks will bring greater economic opportunity to America’s heartland, including some of the great jobs building infrastructure, and they will help support future 5G technologies,” Pai said.
During the White House announcement Marty Smith, president elect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, voiced his pleasure with seeing the investment in infrastructure.
“We really appreciate the fact that you have put this emphasis on rural America,” Smith said.
In a press release following the announcement the Rural & Agriculture Council of America (RACA) also expressed that the moves would benefit underserved areas of the country.
“These efforts demonstrate that private sector competition, not government nationalization of networks, is the best path forward to stimulating local economies and bridging the digital divide in rural communities across America,” said RACA Vice President Chris Skorupa.
To view the whole White House announcement watch the following video: