Sep 14, 2020
Building the U.S. 5G Economy .
At a Glance
As countries around the world build the next generation of wireless networks, the focus has been on the global race to 5G. That narrative obscures how the technology will enable economic growth, create new jobs, and drive innovation.
The 5G Growth Engine
5G networks will improve existing applications and enable innovations that increase productivity and cost competitiveness, and improve health and safety. 5G technologies are expected to create millions of jobs and contribute trillions to global GDP.
Five Success Factors for the 5G Economy
Our research suggests that US policymakers should move away from snapshot-in- time metrics surrounding the global race and focus on five key success factors—networks, spectrum availability, innovation ecosystem, business climate, and talent—that will enable a 5G economy to thrive in the long run.
The innovation ecosystem and business climate are areas of strength for the US, and operators are investing aggressively to build out 5G networks. However, it will be important for the US to continue to add available spectrum, streamline policies governing the building of cellular infrastructure, and improve labor-force readiness.
The fifth generation of wireless technologies, 5G, promises to catalyze the development of mobile digital solutions that will help reinvent how business works and transform the way people interact with one another. Over the coming decade, 5G networks are likely to disrupt almost every industry in the world.
Most countries and policymakers have been talking about “a global race to 5G,” with a narrative focused on which nation is leading on narrow metrics such as the number of 5G subscribers and cell towers at any given point in time. Those numbers may be interesting, but they paint a partial and often misleading picture. 5G’s true significance lies in the fact that it will generate economic growth, create new jobs, and reshape innovation.
That’s why we believe US policymakers should fundamentally change how they think about 5G. Instead of focusing on a global race narrative, they should turn their attention to these five key success factors that will allow the building of the 5G economy in the US and enable it to thrive over the next decade.
- Spectrum Availability. To unlock the full potential of 5G networks, wireless providers need a sufficient mix of low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum, which should be made available through a market-based, transparent set of for- ward-looking auctions.
- Networks. Capital investments by cellular-service operators have been, and will continue to be, critical for building the 5G network infrastructure. A reduced regulatory burden at all levels of government will speed infrastructure build- out, which is necessary to increase subscriber penetration, the key measure of network reach.
- Innovation Ecosystem. US government policies should encourage ample private-sector R&D spending and provide strong IP protection to nurture a virtuous cycle of innovation and development.
- Business Climate. A combination of access to funding, openness to risk, and business-friendly policies will create an environment that is conducive to technological innovation.
- Talent. To ensure that the US workforce has the skills necessary for future techno- logical changes, tech-related certification and degree training will be critical.