Opinion

FCC’s 5G Order Will Create New Opportunities for All Communities

The Federal Communications Commission will vote today on a proposal seeking to further streamline wireless infrastructure policy. The move is a highly anticipated and welcomed one that will help usher in a new wave of innovation on next-generation networks that reaches into rural communities.

5G will revolutionize the ability to compete, operate and contribute in today’s evolving digital economy. It will disrupt sectors and create entire new ones. This is because 5G is expected to introduce near real-time speeds and instantaneous responsiveness as well as significantly increased data capabilities. It will embolden the Internet of Everything and allow advanced connectivity to improve how we work and live.

For agriculture, this is a game-changer. Farmers and ranchers are constantly looking to find ways to streamline their own practices to ensure better success and growth in the future. This is only going to be truer with 5G. With this advanced network technology, agriculture producers for example will be able to use advanced sensor and drone technologies to track and manage the irrigation components on a farm in real time. As a result, they can avoid potential waste of resources such as spoiled crops and ultimately ensure more efficiency and success in delivery of products to market.

The benefits of 5G will also address a serious issue that continues plaguing rural America: the digital divide. In today’s world, where nearly all opportunity and support are rooted in digital connectivity, those who lack adequate access to broadband are at a disadvantage. This service is no longer a luxury; it is now a necessity that allows individuals a better and more enhanced quality of life. Analysis of the FCC’s latest proposal suggests that 1.8 million more homes in businesses will be covered with next-generation service, and 97 percent of that will be in rural and suburban communities. That will be a welcome change.

5G will also empower stronger, more robust wireless connectivity that could be a substitute to fixed connections. This will enable people in underserved areas to better use resources directly from their phones, including applications allowing them to take classes or visit a doctor virtually as well as job search and monitor their health and finances. This next level of connectivity will be critical as more Americans rely solely on wireless devices to receive critical resources.

The economic stimulus generated from next generation technologies is important as well. U.S. leadership in 4G accounted for roughly $125 billion in domestic business revenue and generated growth of 2.5 million to 4.6 million jobs between 2011 and 2014. With the FCC’s 5G order, an analysis confirms the U.S. will save $2 billion in costs, stimulate an additional $2.4 billion in investments and add more than 27,000 jobs.

5G is being heralded a game-changer, and for good reason. It will set a whole new bar when it comes to innovation. And with this will come our ability to provide better access to life-changing resources for all individuals including those in rural America and in the U.S. agriculture space. The FCC’s latest efforts are monumental, and it’s imperative we continue with forward-looking agendas such as this. More opportunity awaits.


Betsy Huber is president of the National Grange, the nation’s oldest general farm and rural public interest organization, with nearly 2,000 affiliate local, county and state Grange chapters across the United States.

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