President Trump on Monday signed into law a pair of bills designed to boost wireless and broadband networks: the Secure 5G and Beyond Act and the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act. The first requires the president to develop a strategy to secure and protect 5G technology, while the second is meant to improve the accuracy of maps detailing where broadband is and isn’t available in the US.
Under the 5G Act, the president must consult with Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and other agencies and submit to Congress a plan for rolling out secure 5G, both within and outside the US, within 180 days.
The next generation of wireless technology, 5G brings increased networks speeds and network responsiveness and promises to help bring about real-time mobile applications for technologies like driverless cars and virtual reality. The nation’s biggest wireless companies, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, began rolling out 5G service last year.
The Broadband DATA Act, meanwhile, is expected to change how and what information the FCC collects about broadband access to ensure that the federal government has more granular information about where broadband can be found.
The law requires the FCC to deliver new rules for data collection and “establish a process to verify the accuracy of such data, and more.” The agency has already begun a process to improve the accuracy of its mapping by allowing the accuracy of the data to be verified by crowdsourcing.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by chairman Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Ranking Member Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, applauded the passage of the bills.
“The bills signed into law today by the president are critical to ensuring that all Americans can access broadband and that our networks are secure and trusted,” the committee said in a statement. “The need for connectivity is even more critical now that millions of Americans are teleworking and learning from home in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai thanked Congress for its bipartisan efforts on the Broadband DATA legislation and also applauded the resident for signing the bill into law. But Pai said that he hoped Congress would also fund its implementation.
“It is vital for Congress to provide the FCC as soon as possible with the appropriations necessary to implement the Act,” he said. “Right now, the FCC does not have the funding to carry out the Act, as we have warned for some time.”
He said that if Congress doesn’t act to provide funding soon, “this well-intentioned legislation will have the unfortunate effect of delaying rather than expediting the development of better broadband maps.”