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Jan 25, 2021

Building the 5G Economy .

The Wireless Industry's Plan to Invest and Innovate in the U.S.

Building the 5G Economy document cover


Building the 5G Economy


Today, wireless is hard at work investing in America, building the infrastructure and networks that will drive our economic recovery, shrink the digital divide, and provide the platform on which American ingenuity and innovation will solve the challenges of the 21st century—from health care and climate change to education and transportation.

This report outlines the wireless industry’s plan to build a new, 5G Economy, as well as our recommendations for the policies that will help jumpstart economic recovery and help connect all Americans. Read the highlights below and download the full report to learn more about industry, and our plan to invest and innovate in America.

Deploying 5G Across America

Tower by tower, small cell by small cell, device by device, the U.S. has made remarkable progress rolling out 5G networks. The U.S. has among the world’s fastest 5G speeds, and is the largest country with three nationwide 5G networks. We’re also doing it much more quickly than ever before. The U.S. industry built more cell sites last year than in the three prior years combined, and the leading smartphone providers have all launched new signature 5G devices.

The initial 5G networks already cover over 270 million Americans and one operator has committed to serve over 90 percent of rural Americans in a few short years. 5G networks are already running in rural parts of Iowa, North Carolina, and Wisconsin as we turn on 5G in more communities every day.

Wireless Economic Impact Today

We know 5G will have a powerful positive economic effect because of our experience with 4G wireless, which drove innovation in the past decade fostering the app and sharing economies. Last year, wireless contributed nearly $700 billion to the economy and supported almost 5 million jobs—jobs that pay 50 percent more than average American jobs. The wireless ecosystem has been the largest job creator across all industries in the last decade.

With the right policies in place, 5G will be transformative—making our lives better, our communities safer, and our nation more prosperous.
Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA President & CEO

Mobile Use Skyrockets

Consumer demand for wireless set a new standard last year as Americans use more and more wireless services every year whether by voice, text, or data. There are now 1.3 wireless devices per American as our smartphones are increasingly joined by tablets, smartwatches, cars, and IoT devices. Last year, Americans used more than 37T MBs of mobile data, or roughly 9GB a month per smartphone.

Since 2010, almost 100 times more traffic runs over wireless networks. That requires billions invested every year just to keep up with year-over-year growth, new Americans online, and the proliferation of devices. To help keep up with America’s demand for more, the U.S. wireless industry uses the spectrum available 42 times more efficiently over the last decade.

Spectrum Fuels Our Future

Wireless technologies are powered by spectrum, the radio waves that transmit data though the air, enabling us to communicate anywhere, anytime. 5G requires a blend of different bands to unlock its full promise. All of our nation’s 5G ambitions are dependent upon the continued availability of sufficient spectrum to support consumer usage.

Nearly every 5G deployment outside the U.S. relies on mid-band spectrum. Despite the good progress made in the past two years and the auction of 350 megahertz of mid-band spectrum, the U.S. will still trail key rivals. To close the gap, the United States will need to roughly double the amount of licensed mid-band available for commercial use. On average, the U.S. will face a global deficit of 310 megahertz by 2022. The record setting C-Band auction shows the overwhelming need for more licensed mid-band spectrum.

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