Survey Says: Massive 5G Upgrades Need Government Facilitators

The deployment of 5G wireless will produce over a half trillion in near term economic benefit to the GDP and much more long term. That is according to a new paper from the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, which also says government needs to better help that process along.

The  study says 5G will require massive upgrades to current mobile infrastructure that will provide advanced healthcare, video and the Internet of virtually everything, but only assuming regulations enable, rather than disable, timely deployment.

That means massive investment as well, an estimated $275 billion over the next 7 years, the institute says.

The institute's first Lost Economy report estimates a $533 billion boost to GDP from investing in and building out the networks, and an additional $1.2 trillion in long-run economic benefit from their operation and use. But to get all that green for the economy, state and local governments need to get rid of some of the red tape, it concludes.

The report says obstacles to that rosy economic picture include "onerous rules," approval delays, deployment moratoria and high fees.

The FCC is looking to clear some of those away through a couple of open proceedings, as are some in Congress through legislation to speed broadband deployment.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has launched a pair of proceedings earlier this year seeking input on how to speed wired and wireless deployment, including by easing rights of way and tower-siting issues and vetting the impact from delays due to environmental and historical impact studies.

And over on Capitol Hill, a bipartisan bill was introduced two weeks ago  that would streamline the deployment of broadband infrastructure in areas that had already been "subjected" to historical or environmental reviews, including by preempting FCC reviews.

Because capital expenditures on plant and equipment have long lives, their value rests entirely on the present value of future cash flows," says the report. "These cash flows are dependent and influenced by future regulatory changes, which can add, delay or create ambiguity, take away opportunities of value, lack transparency, lead to rent-seeking and gaming, and others risks."

Among the ways the government approval process for equipment citing can be sped up, the report says, include a "short shot clock" on reviews and considering batches of applications, rather than sequentially.

The report includes a state-by-state breakdown of the economic impact and long-term consumer benefits of 5g.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.