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WASHINGTON- U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed his work to advance the United States in the race to 5G, including his MOBILE NOW Act, which was signed into law in 2018, and his bipartisan STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act, legislation he reintroduced yesterday with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) to address improving infrastructure siting to better support emerging technologies.
Full text of the speech below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, before I begin, I’d like to just take a second to mention the resolution the Senate will be passing this week celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment.
“This was a landmark moment in the history of freedom in our country, a major step forward in realizing America’s promise of liberty.
“It’s an important moment to celebrate – and I look forward to voting for this resolution this week and honoring all the women whose courage resulted in the 19th Amendment’s passage.
“Mr. President, just a few years ago, a lot of our current technology would have been unthinkable.
“Watching a football game on your phone.
“Using an app to see who’s ringing the doorbell at your house – while you’re across town at work.
“Ordering groceries using your computer – or, with voice-activated technologies like Alexa, putting groceries in your online cart without even having to click a button.
“But while the technological advances of the last couple of decades have been tremendous, there’s a lot more to come.
“5G mobile broadband technology will deliver speeds that are 100 times faster than what today’s technology can deliver.
“It will be vastly more responsive than 4G technology, and it will be able to connect 100 times the number of devices that can be connected with 4G.
“It’s hard to imagine – after all, our devices today are pretty fast and responsive.
“But 5G will be much, much faster.
“That means near-instant responsiveness from your phone and computer.
“But it means a lot more than that.
“5G will enable massive breakthroughs in health care, transportation, agriculture, and other key industries.
“5G will pave the way for automated vehicles, which have the potential to dramatically reduce traffic injuries and fatalities.
“It will facilitate surgical innovations and new ways to treat chronic illnesses or heal injuries.
“It will allow precision agriculture to take off, empowering America’s farmers and ranchers to make better decisions about field management and substantially increase their crop yields.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that precision agriculture will reduce farmers’ operational costs by up to $25 per acre and increase farmers’ yields by up to 70 percent by 2050.
“The technology for 5G is already here.
“But it requires more than simply having the technology to make 5G a reality.
“In order to deploy 5G, wireless providers need access to sufficient spectrum, and they need to be able to deploy the infrastructure needed to support the technology in a reasonable and timely manner.
“Last year, the president signed the bipartisan MOBILE NOW Act, legislation I introduced to help secure adequate spectrum for 5G technology.
“And yesterday, along with Senator Schatz, I reintroduced the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act to address the other part of the 5G equation – infrastructure.
“Everyone has seen cell phone towers rising a couple hundred feet into the air.
“But 5G technology will require not just traditional cell phone towers, but small antennas called “small cells” that can often be attached to existing infrastructure like utility poles or buildings.
“I was encouraged to see the Federal Communications Commission under Chairman Pai’s leadership modernize its regulations on the approval for small cells, but more work can and should be done.
“That’s where the STREAMLINE Act comes in.
“My STREAMLINE Act updates current law to better reflect emerging technology.
“It will expedite the deployment of small cells while respecting the role of state and local governments in making deployment decisions.
“And importantly, it will make it more affordable to bring 5G to rural areas by addressing the costs of small cell deployment.
“Too often, rural areas like those in my home state of South Dakota have lagged behind when it comes to getting the most modern broadband technology.
“It’s important that we remove barriers to deployment in rural areas so that rural communities can have the same access to the benefits of 5G.
“Mr. President, in addition to fostering tremendous technological breakthroughs in everything from agriculture to energy, 5G has the potential to add $500 billion to the economy and create millions of new jobs.
“But in order to achieve those economic benefits, we need to stay at the head of the 5G revolution.
“The United States lagged behind other countries in deploying 2G and 3G technology, which had real economic consequences.
“Europe, for example, took the lead in 2G and cornered most of the market in sales of networking equipment and telecom hardware.
“As 4G emerged, however, the U.S. wireless industry stepped forward, investing billions in 4G deployment.
“The government also took steps to support the wireless industry, freeing up spectrum and making it easier to deploy the necessary infrastructure.
“That’s what we need to do again today.
“If we want to stay at the head of the race to 5G, the government needs to make sure wireless companies have access to the necessary spectrum and the ability to efficiently deploy small cell infrastructure.
“And while we pursue licensed spectrum for 5G, we must also be mindful of the critical role unlicensed spectrum plays in the development of 5G and throughout the communications landscape.
“Wi-Fi operating on unlicensed spectrum is responsible for a tremendous and growing amount of the data transmitted in our homes and offices, and will play an increasing role in the future.
“Identifying spectrum resources not just for the next few years, but for the next 10 years and beyond is essential if we are to retain American leadership.
“My MOBILE NOW Act was an important step forward in increasing access to both licensed and unlicensed spectrum, but there’s more work to be done.
“While we’ve made good progress on securing low- and high-band spectrum, China and South Korea are far ahead of us in opening up mid-band spectrum for 5G.
“If we don’t want to lose out to China and South Korea on 5G, we need to substantially increase the amount of mid-band spectrum available to U.S. companies.
“And, of course, we need to focus on streamlining the deployment of small cells through measures like the STREAMLINE Act, so that companies can get the necessary infrastructure for 5G in place.
“The STREAMLINE Act would substantially expedite the deployment of 5G technology, and I hope the Senate will take up my bill in the near future.
“Mr. President, Americans have always been innovators and pioneers.
“We’ve been on the cutting edge of more than one technological revolution, and we can lead the world again in 5G.
“I look forward to continuing to work to ensure that U.S. companies have the framework they need to carry America into the 5G future.”