By Sen. John Thune
I’ve had the privilege of serving as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee for nearly four years now. Over the years, my committee, which has broad jurisdiction over things like our nation’s transportation system, consumer protection, and technology, has held hearings on a variety of topics. We’ve covered everything from planes, trains, and automobiles to Twitter and Facebook to the ecosystem’s dependence on sharks. We’ve heard and seen it all.
Earlier this year, I convened a hearing in Washington to explore America’s leadership in the race toward 5G mobile broadband technology.
To put 5G technology into perspective, think about your first data-enabled mobile phone and, while we considered it fast at the time, how long it took to load mobile apps or webpages.
Flash forward to today, and there’s no doubt mobile broadband technology has improved. With a few quick clicks, you can get a ride in an Uber, order movie tickets, or pay for your parking meter without even having to leave a restaurant.
Believe it or not, as fast as our devices are today, 5G mobile broadband technology will help deliver speeds that are 100 times faster than what today’s technology can deliver.
While there are obvious and important benefits to faster speeds, there are equally as important, but perhaps less obvious, benefits to the United States getting to 5G before our global competitors. It means more opportunities, more jobs, and more economic development. According to some estimates, 5G could contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the U.S. economy.
American innovators and entrepreneurs have for generations been pioneers. Americans invented and flew the first airplane. We put the first man on the moon. There’s no reason why we can’t be first in the 5G revolution, too. As chairman of the Commerce Committee, I want to help the United States win this race, and I want South Dakota to be at the forefront.
It’s with that in mind that I’ll be taking the Commerce Committee on the road. On October 5, I’ll be picking up where we left off in Washington and will convene a field hearing in Sioux Falls to examine the hurdles that are making it more difficult for states and communities to continue moving the ball down the field on this important issue.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, who shares my goal of bringing the world’s fastest internet to South Dakota, will join me, as will Commissioner Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission, Dakota State University President José-Marie Griffiths, and representatives from Verizon and Midcontinent Communications.
The technology already exists to make 5G a reality. It’s up to local, state, and federal leaders to work together on getting the necessary infrastructure in place, while also freeing up additional spectrum, the airwaves on which the frequencies that support mobile broadband travel.
Together we can make it work, and I’m confident we will.