5G will transform the US economy
Businesses in the coming era will only be as strong as the connectivity powering them. It is vital for the US to accelerate the build out of nation-wide 5G infrastructure as a foundation of economic growth. With access to mid-band spectrum, a streamlined permitting process for building 5G cell sites, and a trained workforce to build and maintain 5G networks, the US will be able to accelerate 5G deployment across the country.
America is a country of firsts. Especially when it comes to technology, the country has always been on the cutting edge, from the light bulb, to the airplane, to the personal computer. That’s certainly true of the country’s early embrace of mobile phones and mobile wireless Internet – and the benefits from the innovation they have powered.
Ericsson is also a company of firsts. From producing some of the first mobile phones, to developing a programming language used by some of the biggest names in the digital world, to collaborating on the standards for the first generation of mobile wireless technology, we have always been a telecommunications innovator.
The newest generation, 5G, is already transforming industries, kickstarting a 4th Industrial Revolution. Combined with IoT, AI, and Cloud computing, 5G has the potential to unlock 3 million jobs in the US, changing the way many companies do business through low latency, ultra-reliability and blazing fast speed.
5G’s growth will be rapid – 5G subscription uptake is expected to be significantly faster than 4G according to Ericsson’s June 2020 Mobility Report. 5G commercialization is moving at a rapid pace. US service providers have already launched commercial 5G services, focused on fixed wireless access and mobile broadband. North America’s LTE penetration is currently 92 percent, the highest share globally. In less than five years, there will be close to 325 million 5G subscriptions, accounting for 74 percent of all mobile subscriptions.
The United States is Ericsson’s largest market. To support the expansion of 5G across the nation, Ericsson has built a workforce of 7,200 employees in the US which includes 1,900 field services employees and more than 700 tower climbers. Ericsson has five Centers of Excellence in the US that educate and certify highly skilled field workers to support rapid 5G network rollout.
Ericsson’s 5G factory in Lewisville, Texas demonstrates the company’s deep roots in the US. This $100 million investment is producing equipment to power the deployment of 5G in the US and powering transformational efficiencies of 5G in manufacturing. Locating the factory in the US also helps establish an end-to-end high-integrity supply chain that assures networks are trustworthy, resilient, and secure by design – all on day one.
Other Ericsson investments in the US include the D-15 center in Silicon Valley, where Ericsson and its partners are co-creating the 5G-powered technologies of the future and the Austin ASIC Design Center, with a focus on microelectronics and accelerating the path to 5G commercialization.
5G will be a major driver of American prosperity, growth and ingenuity – but that won’t happen on its own. Now is the time to make the right policy decisions to ensure 5G’s potential comes to fruition.
To reap the economic benefits the US needs to have a strong 5G infrastructure in place, and we are running the risk of falling behind. Here are several things the US needs to do to gain the competitive advantage and keep it:
Allocate more spectrum: Increasing mid-band spectrum availability is crucial to the success of 5G. In order to realize the full potential of digitalization, including use cases like public security, IoT, and industrial automation, additional suitable spectrum bands and enough bandwidth and speed are needed for 5G (and eventually 6G) systems. Mid-band spectrum’s wide coverage and low latency is particularly critical to 5G use cases like Massive IoT.
There are limited opportunities for licensed spectrum in the mid-band to support 5G. Therefore the 6 GHz band can play a crucial role, and that calls for a more balanced approach where the upper portions of the band are reserved for licensed spectrum and the lower frequencies support unlicensed use on a tech-neutral basis.
Expedite zoning and permitting: The government must continue to take action supporting streamlined zoning and permitting to reduce 5G deployment timelines. This could include incentives to encourage 5G deployment in rural areas, bringing the benefits of the technology beyond the cities to a broader swath of the country.
Create a skilled tower workforce: Leading in 5G depends on providing quality installation and rollout services with a specialized and well-trained workforce. To date, Ericsson has trained and hired 700 tower crew members and has initiated training for 800 more.