Tester Fights to #ConnectMT in Race to 5G

“If rural America isn’t part of the equation, we don’t win the race”

(U.S. Senate) – In the race to 5G, U.S. Senator Tester is fighting to make sure rural America doesn’t get left behind.

“If rural America isn’t part of the equation, we don’t win the race,” Tester said during today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing entitled “The Race to 5G: Exploring Spectrum Needs to Maintain U.S. Global Leadership.”

5G refers to the fifth generation of cellular technology. Currently, most cell phones transmit calls and data through a 3G or 4G system. According to experts, 5G will likely be 100 times faster and open up endless new possibilities for cell phones, computers, and other technology that relies on high-speed, wireless networks. As the first country to deploy 5G, the U.S. could set global standards for the next generation of wireless technology.

That’s why wireless carriers and other tech companies are engaged in a high-stakes international race to 5G.

“We still don’t even have 4G where I’m from,”
Tester, a Big Sandy native, said during the hearing. “What kind of money will it take to make 5G a reality everywhere? Because my guess is you’re going to start in New York and Chicago and Miami and Houston and Phoenix and San Diego—and Big Sandy will not be on that list.”

The hearing featured representatives from telecommunications companies like CTIA, Qualcomm, and Charter Communications, who noted that rapid deployment of 5G technology would require focusing on urban areas first.

“So, the question is what’s it going to cost to make sure Big Sandy is on that list?” Tester pressed.

Tester also touched on the benefits of 5G for precision agriculture. In April, Tester teamed up with both Republicans and Democrats to pass the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act. The bill would boost access to high-speed internet for Montana farmers and ranchers while instructing the FCC to develop ways to expand mobile wireless service in farming and ranching areas where it is currently unavailable.

Tester launched his #ConnectMT initiative back in 2015 to address the connectivity issues facing businesses, schools, and families across the state. Since then Tester has fought to maintain a free and open internet, brought high-speed internet to rural schools, got his Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act signed into law, and successfully pushed the FCC to expand wireless coverage to a large portion of Montana earlier this year.