To many Americans, the widespread deployment of 5G technology means faster download speeds on their mobile device.
While that is absolutely one of the real benefits of 5G technology, it is a great deal more than that. In fact, the U.S. maintaining its high tech advantage in the 5G arena has national security implications.
It also has widespread economic importance. It is also critically important that 5G technology be American, and not Chinese technology — not for reasons of national pride, but because national security matters.
For this reason, we need U.S. policymakers to remove unnecessary impediments to American innovation and deployment in the 5G arena. The truth is that China is hoping that our regulatory regimes will slow and impede American innovation and the speed of implementation of this new technology so that we leave the window open for China to dominate the world in 5G technology.
One of the current impediments to 5G progress is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which despite having no actual evidence for vaguely stated concerns, nonetheless alleges that maybe 5G technology will interfere with altimeters in older helicopters and older small private planes. Without providing any specifics or data, the FAA is throwing up roadblocks.
I am confident that we all agree that if expanding 5G technology were going to mean planes falling out of the skies, we would all want to put the breaks on. But the FAA hasn’t provided any real transparency to its vague concerns or any significant specifics and there is zero evidence that 5G technology interferes with altimeters.
But it’s not just that the FAA hasn’t provided any factual support. The truth is this issue has been heavily studied by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which regulates the usage of wireless spectrum to be sure it doesn’t create conflicts. Roughly 40 other countries have also studied this issue and they all agree that there is no harmful interference with 5G and altimeters.
Why didn’t the FAA raise any concerns over American planes already flying to these countries?
On a practical level, around the globe there are a number of 5G cell towers. Some of them are near airfields and there has been no observed interference with altimeters.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has concluded: “[E]ven though 5G has already been deployed in several States around the world, we are not aware of any reported occurrence that relates to possible interference originating from 5G base stations.”
While China may be able to give American consumers a better internet connection (as American technology would also clearly do), the communist country will not promote economic growth around the globe and certainly not in America. Moreover, because 5G technology will be more than just faster connection speeds, but will also be the “internet of things” and allow for our devices to communicate with each other (to the extent we authorize that), 5G technology will open up thousands of new businesses just as smartphones did.
The sharing economy — exemplified by Uber and Lyft and Airbnb — was made possible by smartphone technology.
In the same way, but probably multiplied by a factor of one thousand, 5G technology will become the foundation of thousands of amazing ideas that will make the lives of consumers more convenient. It will create millions of new jobs and greater opportunity for more and more people.
But if we hamstring our own industries and entrepreneurs, the totalitarian regime in China will gladly fill the void. And if China deploys 5G technology, privacy and security will take a huge hit.
The Chinese regime has been gathering online data on Americans for decades. Dominating and defining the technology that will be built into your phone and later into household appliances will give the totalitarian regime unprecedented access to all of our private information — perhaps even how much milk we have in the refrigerator.
But the other problem would be a very serious national security issue. Can you imagine having 5G chips in military hardware that could give the totalitarian regime access to intelligence and even the ability to turn off the hardware?
Imagine our missile defense being turned off because we ceded 5G technology to China.
Experts and policymakers from all sides of the political spectrum agree that 5G technology does not pose risks to altimeters. So if the FAA has some secret information that it has yet to reveal, it should provide transparency and reveal precisely what its concerns are as well as the scientific and data basis for such concerns.
Otherwise, the FAA needs to work in good faith and allow America to continue to be the world’s high tech leader and innovator. Our national economic wellbeing and our national security hang in the balance.
George Landrith is the President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty and constitutionally limited government. To learn more about Frontiers of Freedom, visit www.ff.org. Read George Landrith's Reports — More Here.
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