Unleashing Next-Generation Networks

Communications technology is constantly evolving, and the FCC’s job is to facilitate this progress and maximize the benefits of these advancements for the American people. This governing principle animates much of the FCC’s policy agenda and will be the unifying theme of the Commission’s July open meeting.

Topping next month’s meeting agenda will be our Spectrum Frontiers Report and Order and FNPRM, which will accelerate the development and deployment of the next generation of wireless connectivity, a fifth generation – or 5G. As I outlined in recent remarks at the National Press Club, 5G connectivity will likely be more than an incremental evolutionary step forward in wireless technology. It promises quantum leaps forward in three key areas: speeds resembling fiber that are at least 10 times and maybe 100-times faster than today’s 4G LTE networks; responsiveness less than one-thousandth of a second, which enables real-time communication; and network capacity multiples of what is available today.

Coupling this ultra-fast, low-latency, high-capacity connectivity with the almost unlimited processing power of the cloud will enable autonomous vehicles, smart-city energy grids and water systems, immersive education and entertainment, and, most important, killer applications yet to be imagined.

The interconnected world of the future will be the result of decisions we must make today. That is why 5G is a national priority, and why I am circulating to my colleagues proposed new rules that will identify and open up vast amounts of spectrum for 5G applications.

If the Commission approves the Spectrum Frontiers item, the United States will be the first country in the world to open up high-band spectrum for 5G networks and applications. That’s a big deal because it means U.S. companies will be first out of the gate.

We will be repeating the proven formula that made the United States the world leader in 4G: one, make spectrum available quickly and in sufficient amounts; two, give great flexibility to companies that can use the spectrum in expansive ways; and three, stay out of the way of technological development. We will also: balance the needs of various different types of uses in these bands through effective sharing mechanisms; take steps to promote competitive access to this spectrum; and encourage the development of secure networks and technologies from the beginning.

Advances in technology require that the Commission not only act now to pave the way to the next generation of wireless networks, but we must also update our rules to facilitate the transition away from legacy wired networks.  Phone and Internet providers are increasingly replacing their legacy copper networks with next-generation networks that enable greater broadband speeds, efficiency, capacity, and a wealth of innovative features. In recent years, the Commission has acted on numerous occasions to facilitate this transition, while preserving enduring values that have long defined our networks: competition, consumer protection, universal service, and public safety.

Today, I am proposing to my fellow Commissioners a new set of actions to build on that progress. Recognizing the changing role of traditional, local land-line telephone service in a marketplace where consumers have a range of choices, I propose removing the outdated designation of incumbent carriers as the dominant providers in the long-distance voice market, freeing them from outdated regulations. To speed the transition to faster, better networks, this package recommends a streamlined framework for evaluating requests to discontinue legacy service. To ensure the public is aware of and prepared for requests by providers to discontinue traditional services, we would refine our Section 214 notice requirements.

When communications networks advance and evolve, new opportunities open up for the American people. That’s why I remain committed to continually reevaluating the Commission’s rules and policies to make sure they are facilitators – not impediments – to progress. And that’s why I am pleased the Commission is poised to take these significant steps to advance our broadband future.


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