Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Faster Wireless to Guide Cars, Water Plants, in Plans at the FCC

  • Agency to vote July 14 on plan for so-called 5G networks
  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in speech sees new spectrum uses

U.S. regulators next month will vote on freeing airwaves for a new generation of faster wireless systems that could support remote surgery, guide cars, and control electricity grids, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said Monday.

The FCC on July 14 will consider steps to identify and open up “vast amounts of spectrum” for so-called 5G wireless systems that are 10 to 100 times faster than current mobile networks, Wheeler said in a speech in Washington. 5G stands for fifth generation; today’s smartphone technology is considered 4G.

“The FCC will have the opportunity to take an historic step to open up yet another frontier that promises to propel our nation -- and the world -- forward,” Wheeler said. He sketched a vision that included pill bottles, devices to water plants, and uses yet to be imagined.

The FCC deserves credit for acting quickly, said Meredith Attwell Baker, president of CTIA, a trade group with members including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. “All five FCC commissioners and Congress -- on a bipartisan basis -- support this expedited process,” Baker said in a blog post.