The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote on March 22nd on a plan to streamline wireless infrastructure regulations, putting the U.S. on a firmer path to win the race to 5G.

Of course, many Americans today would happily prefer to ignore the latest developments taking place inside our nation’s capital. But when it comes to 5G, Pennsylvanians should take note. Once 5G arrives, it will unlock a world of new possibilities. Developments such as driverless cars, connected devices for health applications, and smart cities will all become reality as 5G is expected to bring faster wireless speeds and lower latency (reduced buffer time).

Videos and other applications using data will download and play nearly instantaneously. Robotics will be taken to a level never before imagined – altering forever developments coming to fruition inside the academic walls of places like Carnegie Mellon.

The economic benefits of a next-generation wireless network in Pennsylvania will also be noteworthy. A recent report from The American Consumer Institute on the benefits of 5G estimates increased gross state product by $22 billion over a 7-year period, as well as the creation of more than 17,500 jobs per year. These investments are also expected to bring nearly $50 billion in new consumer welfare benefits.

However, getting to these historic new levels of opportunity and production as a result of 5G won’t come with a snap of the fingers.

The FCC is making headway at the national level, but states like Pennsylvania have notable influence in how deployment will actually occur. While 5G technology has tremendous potential, the foundation has to be built, and that process is susceptible to being caught in webs of regulatory malaise – municipal rules and fees that can slow and block investment.

Existing regulations increase the cost, risk and timeline of 5G deployment. If left unchanged, Pennsylvania will be at risk of losing out on investments, jobs, and new technologies that consumers want.

Thankfully, state lawmakers are now considering a bill – House Bill 1620 – which will encourage 5G investment by modernizing local regulations and cutting the unnecessary red tape involved with deploying new wireless technologies. 

Notably, over a dozen states have passed new laws to ease the buildout and deployment of necessary 5G infrastructure and other states are examining 5G this year. We are now seeing a growing “5G race” – not just globally, but also within the U.S. between competing local communities and economies that are looking to be the first to deploy. Of course, this makes sense. The first cities and states to embrace 5G technology will be leading the pack in attracting new, fresh economic opportunities and significantly benefitting constituents’ day-to-day lives.

Pennsylvania has a golden opportunity to once again rise up and lead the U.S. in an historic technology renaissance. Lawmakers across the state should support proposed legislation looking to make this opportunity a reality. It’ll mean a better quality of life for all Pennsylvanians today as well as future generations.