The President Signed Two New Wireless Bills: What State & Local Governments and Telecom Operators Should KnowApril 16, 2020Government, telecomBy: LightBox TeamShare: TwitterFacebookLinkedInEmailAnticipation for widespread coverage of 5G technology has been building for years, with major wireless networks starting rollout in 2019. 2020 is expected to be the year where 5G starts to truly scale, but it will be a while longer before we see 5G’s full rollout and adoption. Lawmakers are using this time to get ahead of potential issues that could arise, especially those related to security. Some of the most meaningful moves toward ensuring broadband availability and security came recently when President Donald Trump signed into law two new wireless bills at the end of March.5G promises unprecedented levels of connectivity, making these bills especially important before this technology is fully deployed. While 5G is faster and more powerful, a common critique is that it’s difficult for end-users to tell whether their security has been compromised. Additionally, the network requires 5G nodes within a few hundred feet of each other to work well—something that’s easy to accomplish in metropolitan areas, but not so much in rural areas. Security and availability are expected to be greatly enhanced by these two bills. We’re breaking them down to explain what they mean, and what local governments and telecommunications companies need to know now.The 2020 Wireless Bills ExplainedSummary of the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020 (S.893) Requires the President to develop a strategy to (1) ensure the security of next-generation mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure in the United States, and (2) assist allies and strategic partners in maximizing the security of next-generation mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure.Here’s what that means:The most important thing to know about S.893 is that its primary intention is to make sure that 5G networks are secure now and into the future. Security in this sense means that 5G networks and beyond must be protected against hacking, viruses, or other forms of misuse. This applies to network operations as well as the infrastructure that supports 5G technology (ie: macro and small cell base stations, cell towers, etc.). A security plan will require the Federal government together with the heads of the FCC, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA), relevant cabinet secretaries and the Director of National Intelligence to develop a “Secure Next Generation Mobile Communications Strategy.” The deadline for the plan is September 2020. Additionally, this Act prevents a recommendation or a proposal to nationalize 5th or future generations of wireless communications systems or infrastructure. That ensures 5G technology and infrastructure will never become government-controlled (more on this below). Summary of the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act AKA Broadband Data Act (S.1822)Requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue rules relating to the collection of data concerning the availability of broadband services. This law also makes it illegal for individuals or companies to “willfully and knowingly, or recklessly” submit inaccurate or incomplete information about the availability or quality of broadband internet access.Here’s what that means: The FCC is now required to develop rules around the collection of data and to establish a process to verify the accuracy of data coming from wired, fixed-wireless, satellite, and mobile broadband providers. To do this, the FCC will establish the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (a dataset of geocoded information for all broadband service locations, atop which broadband maps are overlaid) to report broadband service availability data.Additionally, many service providers have complained about faulty broadband maps, and the Broadband Data Act is meant to solve that problem. This is important because accurate broadband maps are necessary to effectively serve all communities with high-speed service. The Government Accountability Office will have to report on the areas where fixed broadband can be installed to improve the quality and completeness of data.What State and Local Governments Need to KnowState, local, and tribal governments will play an important role in ensuring the security and availability of 5G, bringing together intergovernmental, interagency, private sector resources to do so. As mentioned earlier, the Secure 5G & Beyond Act explicitly prevents nationalizing 5G wireless communications systems or infrastructure, so wireless networks will continue to be led by the private sector. It also requires a public comment period of input to begin within 60-days. Public comments will be taken into account to determine whether aspects of the bills need to change. Together with the Federal government, state and local governments will have to assess possible vulnerabilities and monitor potential risks in the regions they govern. State and local governments will also have to ensure their communities are being served appropriately and that 5G is widely accessible.To most effectively serve the intentions of these two new wireless bills, state, local, and tribal governments will need to manage an understanding of 5G capabilities and infrastructure while maintaining awareness of threats and vulnerabilities. Moreover, this will require that any data contributed to the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric is compatible with that map, including accurate geocodes for every piece of infrastructure within state or local boundaries. State and local governments will also have to advocate for their communities, making sure that the cost of building infrastructure and maintaining security is reasonable for states to manage.What the 2020 Wireless Bills Mean for Telecommunications CompaniesIt’s worth repeating here that these bills prevent nationalizing 5G and beyond, meaning that the private sector will remain responsible for wireless communication. Telecom providers are well versed in working together with the Federal government, and these two bills help establish the continuity of that relationship. The Federal government will continue working with telecommunication companies in the private sector to identify, develop, and apply security measures to the United States’ 5G infrastructure. Additionally, the Secure 5G & Beyond Act makes it illegal for individuals or companies to “willfully and knowingly or recklessly” submit inaccurate or incomplete information about the availability or quality of broadband internet access. Data accuracy is central to this, and telecommunications companies must ensure they have access to and can produce accurate data and broadband maps. Telecom companies must also have a complete understanding of the gaps in their coverage to effectively deliver to these areas as 5G becomes more widely available. Helping Governments and Telecom Companies Navigate Location DataTo meet the deadlines imposed by these two new bills, state governments, local governments, and broadband service providers will need to act quickly upon their contributions to each initiative. As so much of the new legislation revolves around a deep understanding of geographical coverage, it is imperative that the parcel data used to inform these coverage and infrastructure maps is as accurate and updated as possible. Contact us today to learn why government entities and telecom companies of all sizes rely on our location intelligence platform to develop data-driven network strategies and ensure regulatory compliance! You can also request a free sample of our category-defining North American parcel database, SmartParcelsⓇ.