The U.S. has a great chance – if the government and private sector play their cards right – to recapture its global leadership position in wireless technologies by the time the clock turns to the next ‘G’ in wireless service several years from now.
That was the message from John Roese, Global Chief Technology Officer at Dell Technologies, during an address at the MerITocracy American Innovation Forum on July 21 in which traced the decline of the U.S. wireless equipment sector over the past decade, and its opportunity for resurgence as current wireless 5G services transition to sixth-generation wireless services in the coming years.
Roese explained that through a combination of market impacts that made the wireless equipment sector less profitable than it had been in the previous generation, most of the industry left the U.S. ten or more years ago. The retreat of wireless industry stalwarts such as Lucent Technologies and Motorola effectively ceded the 5G wireless development playing field to overseas rivals including Chinese firms.
“We no longer have any tier 1 suppliers,” said Roese. “I can count the number of wireless research institutions that are world class on probably two hands.”
“We kind of missed (the 5G) market, to be perfectly honest. We’ll play a bit but…the U.S. won’t lead in 5G. It’s just that simple,” Roese said. “However, by 6G, there is no reason on Earth why we should not have fully re-engaged in this market and started to materialize as a U.S. source of supply that could actually play.”
Getting there, however, will take nothing less than a “national effort” to secure American 6G dominance, he said.
That effort, Roese said, needs to include things like tax incentives, government support for Open RAN wireless tech development, and further investment by major U.S. companies like Dell Technologies, Microsoft, Google, and others.
It’s not only a matter of creating new programs, but also better use of existing ones, he said. “We have to expand the ecosystem,” Roese said. “Anyone who has a program to develop talent, STEM, to catalyze the startup ecosystem, to enhance our research investment, whatever we’re doing today…they need to include telecom and advanced 5G as part of that.”
Tendrils of the larger effort to reinvigorate the U.S. wireless communications industry have been sprouting in the past few years, Roese said. He reckoned that government policy-makers and the private sector have about eight years to accomplish the mission, and that 6G wireless will be in development by about 2030.