June 22, 2017 / 1:11 AM / in a month

White House aims to speed U.S. drone, wireless technologies

FILE PHOTO - An Airspace Systems Interceptor autonomous aerial drone flies during a product demonstration in Castro Valley, California March 6, 2017. Picture taken March 6, 2017.Stephen Lam

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House is bringing together drone makers, wireless companies and venture capitalists on Thursday to look at ways government can help speed new technologies to the marketplace.

President Donald Trump will meet with the chief executives of General Electric Co, Honeywell International Inc and AT&T Inc AT&T Inc, major drone industry firms and venture capitalists in the latest effort by the White House to focus on innovative technologies as a way of spurring job growth.

Michael Kratsios, the White House's deputy chief technology officer, told reporters the goal of the sessions is to find ways the United States "can maintain its leadership creating and fostering entirely new technologies that will drive our economic growth."

The chief executives of several unmanned aerial system, or drone, companies including Kespry Inc, AirMap, Airspace Inc, Measure UAS Inc, Trumbull Unmanned, and PrecisionHawk Inc are attending the White House sessions.

Senior executives at Xcel Energy Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and CenturyLink Inc are also taking part as are venture capital firms including AOL co-founder Steve Case who heads Revolution LLC, 500 Startups, Cayuga Ventures, Epic Ventures and Lightspeed Ventures.

The administration wants to promote the development and commercialization of emerging technologies and speed the development of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones and 5G wireless technology, Kratsios said.

The Obama administration implemented rules that opened the skies to low-level small drones for education, research and routine commercial use. The Trump administration is considering whether to expand drone use for purposes such as deliveries where aircraft would fly beyond the sight of an operator. Security issues would need to be resolved.

The FAA in March estimated that by 2021 the fleet of small hobbyist drones will more than triple and the commercial drone fleet will increase tenfold to about 442,000.

Last year, the FCC cleared the way for 5G, a lightning-fast next generation of wireless services. Testing is under way and deployment is expected around 2020.

New 5G networks are expected to provide speeds at least 10 times and maybe 100 times faster than today's 4G networks. The next generation of wireless signals needs to be much faster and far more responsive to allow advanced technologies such as virtual surgery or controlling machines remotely, regulators say.

The networks could help wirelessly connect devices such as thermostats or washing machines to facilitate the internet of things.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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