5G is the Greatest Infrastructure Project in U.S. History

By Dr. Raul Deju, Partner, Brightstar Capital Partners and Board Member, QualTek

August 7, 2019

Are you watching the growth in data transmission and connectivity in America? Well here are some facts that will give you an idea of the unprecedented consumer demand in wireless and how this is impacting your life and will impact you even more in the future.

As we reach the 10-year mark from 2010 to 2020, wireless use has grown at an unprecedented pace. In 2010 reported wireless data traffic was 388 billion megabytes, by the end of 2018 that grew to 28.5 trillion megabytes, a 75-fold growth. By the end of 2020 the data traffic should exceed 40 trillion megabytes.

Today there are nearly 1.3 mobile phone devices for each of us in America, and this does not include the data-only devices like smart watches, health monitoring devices and a myriad of equipment that is directly connected through a wireless network. It is conservatively estimated that there are more than 150 million data-only devices connected in the U.S. today.

Of course this growth in connectivity is not without a need of capital investment. Since the launch of the 4G program in 2010 and now into the beginning of the 5G effort, industry in the U.S. has invested well over a quarter of a trillion dollars in capital to develop the capacity and the coverage of America’s wireless networks, while also upgrading the technology needed to support 5G. This is certainly one of the largest infrastructure development programs ever in the history of the world. In fact, by comparison the U.S. spent $130 billion over 40 years in building the 43,000 miles of the National Highway System that crosses our nation, about half what industry has already spent in getting to 5G – and we are not there yet.

To date there are more than 350,000 cell sites in America. When you look at the portion of the U.S. that is inhabited (47% of the total land mass) that translates to 1 cell site for each 5 square miles. Translation – there is an enormous growth yet to come!

5G is the greatest infrastructure project ever in America. As we noted earlier, its impact will far exceed the National Highway System and the national electrification effort in prior decades. In addition, 5G is one of the major engines of today’s economic growth. Beginning with the band-spectrum licenses, 5G has contributed $116 billion dollars directly to the US Treasury and over the next 5 years can likely contribute an additional $400 billion. At the rate of growth of the 5G effort we will, over the next decade, create more than three million directly-connected American jobs. This infrastructure thrust also will add between ½ and ¾ of a trillion dollars to our nation’s GDP.

5G is also very important in new things like autonomous cars (self-driving). The current 4G network is only fast enough to online stream full HD content, play games and carry on some basic online functions but not fast enough for millions of fully autonomous cars to be driven in the US every minute of the day (Note: Autonomous cars do not need to be connected to the internet to drive, the internet is just used for downloads). Nonetheless, partly autonomous cars are here today and some fully autonomous cars are on the roads, but without 5G a full realization of this feature nationwide is not yet possible. Of course, there are developments in artificial intelligence and ultra-fast machine decision logic that are also happening and should definitely turn fully autonomous cars into reality in the near future.

You can see 5G is one of the most significant efforts you will see in your lifetime. It is transforming the way we live, move, and think and it opens up worldwide collaboration. It makes many unthinkable opportunities possible while creating many high paying jobs in America.

Data used in this piece comes from many private and public sources all deemed reliable. Information has been cross checked and peer reviewed.