Trump announces 5G for rural areas

MInnesota rancher Don Scheifelbein met with President Trump to talk about the planned 5G network.

On April 12, President Donald Trump and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) an-nounced new initiatives to launch 5G network growth throughout both urban and rural areas across the United States.

“Secure 5G networks will absolutely be a vital link to America’s prosperity and national security in the 21st century,” said President Trump. “5G will be as much as 100 times faster than the cur-rent 4G cellular networks. It will transform the way our citizens work, learn, communicate and travel. It will make American farms more productive, American manufacturers more competitive, and American healthcare better and more accessible.”

In the April 12 press conference, Trump vowed to outcompete foreign countries in the quest to secure 5G nationwide. With investments in next generation connectivity, the FCC’s 5G Fast Plan is the largest commercial spectrum auction in FCC history and will free up more airwaves for the private sector to enhance quality of service and future network connectivity.

“We cannot allow any other country to outcompete the United States in this powerful industry of the future,” he told reporters. “The race to 5G is on and America must win. It’s private sector driven and private sector led. The wireless industry plans to invest $275 billion in 5G networks, creating 3 million American jobs quickly and adding $500 billion to our economy.”

CNBC reports that 92 5G markets will be ready to launch by the end of 2019, far outpacing South Korea, which is set to have 48 live markets by the end of the year.

At the April 12 press conference, Marty Smith, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) president-elect, spoke directly to the president saying, “Mr. President we really appreciate the fact that you have put this emphasis on rural America. The things that you have done in office have been tremendous for us. We look forward to the next several years and you continuing to do that.”

Also joining Smith and representing NCBA at the press conference was Don Schiefelbein, a beef producer from Kimball, Minn.

“Having the opportunity to meet President Trump, you quickly realize he’s a very down-to-earth and friendly guy, just like your neighbor at the coffee shop,” said Schiefelbein, who serves as the chairman of NCBA’s policy division. “He believes having a powerful agricultural community is good for the United States, so he wants to make sure that we are positioned so the latest technologies are available to us. Having 5G in rural communities would allow our industries to be as progressive as any nation in the world.”

At home on the ranch, Schiefelbein said today’s modern producers use the tractor seat as a place to do business.

“A typical day during planting season is sitting in a tractor that drives itself and talking on the phone conducting business,” said Schiefelbein. “While I plant corn, I can also be transferring funds, approving purchase agreements or doing registrations and transfers at the American An-gus Association. Years ago, we could have never envisioned doing all of that while driving a tractor, but today, that’s our mobile office. Having access to the best broadband connectivity available is what will allow rural America to be successful and competitive in the future.”

Schiefelbein praised the Trump Administration for surrounding itself with strong individuals who understand blue collar, working industries like agriculture. He added that being involved with NCBA allowed him the opportunity to meet the President of the United States to discuss im-portant issues like this one.

“The week before this press conference, I was in Washington, D.C., to discuss trade with the Trump Administration,” said Schiefelbein. “Through that meeting, I was invited back to be part of the discussions on rural broadband. One thing that I’ve realized is that it’s incredibly important to be active in trade organizations that work on behalf of rural America. It’s because of trade or-ganizations that we access access to the most powerful man in the world, giving us the oppor-tunity to share our challenges and concerns. As producers become a smaller minority of the population, getting involved is going to be even more critical.”

Currently, 5G is live in 14 American cities, but more work is needed to ensure 5G is deployed in rural areas, as well. However, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr says that while the United States is set to accelerate 5G deployment at a rapid clip, infrastructure challenges will slow the integration of this connectivity in rural America.

“To meet the needs of the people we serve, we need next-gen networks,” said Commissioner Carr. “We need 5G. Although the benefits of 5G are compelling, the network upgrade won’t happen evenly or everywhere unless we get the right regulatory structures in place. After all, many of the largest cities in the U.S., like those in Europe, might see 5G almost regardless of the regulations we adopt. But that’s not success. We want to see next-generation broadband and the economic opportunity it enables available in every community. And smart infrastructure policies are key to doing that—they can flip the business case for thousands of communities. That’s why we’ve been so focused over the last year at the FCC on updating our broadband in-frastructure rules.”

In the last year, two significant reforms have been adopted to address the ongoing challenges of deploying broadband infrastructure in rural communities.

“First, we updated our approach to the federal historic and environmental rules that govern the buildout of broadband infrastructure,” said Carr. “We did so because our old rules assumed that every new cell site is a large, 200-foot tower. Those rules made no sense when you’re talking about the backpack-sized small cells that are needed to support 5G networks. They threatened to slow down and delay the deployment of next-generation networks. So we updated our envi-ronmental and historic preservation rules to reflect new technology.

“Second, we examined impediments to infrastructure buildout imposed by city and state gov-ernments. We sought to respect the deep tradition of federalism in America, while providing up-dated guidance on the limits Congress placed on local governments’ small cell approval pro-cesses. We clarified that the fees governments charge for siting small cells in rights-of-way must not exceed a reasonable approximation of their costs, and we tightened the shot clocks for ap-proving small cell applications so that we can get this infrastructure up more quickly.”

These actions would save $3.6 billion, which allows those funds to be reinvested in new towers and poles. What’s more, Carr said that leading the world in 5G implementation would net $275 billion to the U.S. GDP.

While reducing regulatory red tape will be critical in moving forward, it’s the private sector and private industries that will ultimately help to speed up the implementation of 5G connectivity in rural America.

“The announcement of a $20.4 billion ‘Rural Digital Opportunity Fund’ will help underserved ar-eas’ access to broadband over the next 10 years through a series of incentives intended to stimulate private sector competition and investment in much-needed broadband infrastructure,” said Chris Skorupa, Rural & Agriculture Council of America vice president, in a statement. “The-se efforts demonstrate that private sector competition, not government nationalization of net-works, is the best path forward to stimulating local economies and bridging the digital divide in rural communities across America.”