Drones, 5G Internet Dominate Talks as
Tech Execs Visit White House
June 23, 2017
Ubiquitous drones and a faster Internet are coming sooner than you might
think, and governments are staring into the unknown as they face the
prospect of regulating the coming technological revolution in a way that
fosters innovation, while at the same time protecting the often
conflicting interests of consumers, entrepreneurs and the general
It’s Technology Week at the White House, and top industry executives
huddled together Thursday with President Donald Trump to show off their
wares and talk about what government’s role should be in regulating, and
at the same time encouraging the pace of change. The discussion was all
about “next generation” lightning-fast 5G wireless services and the
exponential growth of drone-related technologies.
“This meeting comes at an important time because we’re on the precipice
of moving to 5G and bringing about the Internet of Things,” said Mike
Sievert, Chief Operating Officer of T-Mobile, a leading cellphone
service provider. “The position that the government takes is going to
determine whether or not America continues to lead in technology.”
Sievert was joined by a Who’s Who of top executives from venture
capitalists and firms such as Sprint, AT&T, General Electric, Honeywell,
Verizon, and Microsoft. Also attending were entrepreneurs from drone
industry leaders like AirMap, which produces a platform for drone
mapping that is in use at most U.S. airports; and Precision Hawk, which
analyzes data gathered by advanced drone technology and sensors for the
energy and agriculture industries.
Trump told the group he is committed to keeping the government out of
the way to allow the tech companies to grow and prosper.
“[There have been] too many years of excessive government regulation,”
Trump told the drone executives. “We’ve had regulation that’s been so
bad, so out of line, that it’s really hurt our country. On a daily
basis, we’re getting rid of regulation.”
Trump’s message did not appear to go down well with the entrepreneurs,
however. Precision Hawk CEO Michael Chasen explained to the president
the need for government to take a lead role in establishing rules and
standards for the drone industry.
“This is the one industry where we need a little bit more regulation,”
Chasen told Trump. “Because the default [present state of affairs] is
limiting what drone technology can do and we need the FAA and other
regulatory bodies who have the power to regulate [to open] up those
opportunities so we can stay competitive with other countries.”
Trump said his government wants to provide an environment where
innovators can dream big.
“We’re on the verge of new technological revolutions that could improve
virtually every aspect of our lives, create vast new wealth for American
workers and families and open bold new frontiers in science, medicine
and communications,” said the president.
Drone industry experts say sales growth has been phenomenal.
“In the past eight months, nearly 850,000 drones were registered by the
FAA [Federal Aviation Administration],” said Brett Velicovich, president
of a Washington area drone firm and author of the new book Drone
Warrior. "That compares to only 350,000 airplanes sold over the past 100
said his greatest worry is that governments such as the United States
don’t seem to fully appreciate the potential security threat posed by
the new generation of cheap, powerful drones in the hands of terrorists.
“Groups like ISIS see how cheap this technology is and how capable it is
and how far they can fly away from the remote and the type of payloads
you can put on it and so the security implications come from these
people and organizations that would try and do us harm,” he told VOA.
“They see how readily available the technology is, how cheap it is, and
how far it’s come just in the last few months.”
The United States has long been a leader in the use of military drones,
and a multi-billion-dollar drone sale is reported to be up for
discussion early next week when India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi
pays a visit to the White House.
Reuters reports that India is pushing to buy a naval variant of the
Predator drone, which manufacturer General Atomics says can be used for
wide-area, long-endurance maritime intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance missions. It can stay in the air for up to 27 hours and
can fly at a maximum altitude of 15,000 meters.