Winning the Race to 5G and Beyond Requires Ramping Up Public-Private Research

Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019, 2:41pm

by Maryam Khan Cope, Director, Government Affairs


Earlier this month, President Trump announced an effort aimed at helping to ensure America wins the global race to deploy 5G wireless technology. Advanced wireless networks such as 5G hold the promise to revolutionize the way we communicate, work, and live by seamlessly connecting our cars, devices, and entertainment with unprecedented speed and security. At the core of all 5G network innovations are semiconductors, which power network base stations and our cars, phones, and other connected devices. To ensure U.S. leadership in 5G, the federal government must invest ambitiously in public-private semiconductor research.

The road to 5G has been fraught with research and engineering questions of great impact, as well as broader questions about how to most quickly and effectively implement advanced wireless networks across the country. One of the less-known aspects of the race to 5G has been the role of public-private partnerships, which have been jumpstarted by federal research investments.

Just like the original internet, ARPANET, the federal research enterprise played a critical role in getting 5G to where it is today. For decades, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has supported fundamental research to enable advanced wireless technologies, including advanced materials science and engineering, and acted as a catalyst for academic, industry, and community leaders to work together to prototype innovative wireless approaches to address societal challenges. This April, NSF – in partnership with the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, the private sector, and universities – launched a new, real-world wireless testbed for the Advanced Platform for Wireless Research.

As we turn to 6G, which will rely on faster and more powerful and miniaturized processors combined with new architectures, we’ll need to continue to align federal resources to achieve technological leadership. Consequently, SIA’s recent report, Winning the Future: A Blueprint for Sustained U.S. Leadership in Semiconductor Technology, calls for “a national policy that augments the R&D efforts of the semiconductor industry, builds up the engineering and tech workforce, and supports both private and public R&D.”

SIA looks forward to working with policymakers in Washington to prioritize public-private research investments to help ensure America remains the global leader in semiconductor technology and wins the race to deploy semiconductor-enabled 5G technology.