By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump will discuss advanced wireless technologies and drones on Thursday with top executives at AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, T-Mobile US Inc and other firms, focusing on how government can create the right environment for breakthroughs.
AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and CenturyLink Inc CEO Glen Post will be among the executives discussing advanced technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, 5G wireless technologies and universal broadband, officials said.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump will see "demonstrations of how these technologies will contribute to the 21st century economy and how the government can ensure that their safe adoption leads to the best possible outcomes for the American worker and American businesses."
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, Deputy Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House National Economic Director Gary Cohn and FAA and NASA officials will attend small group meetings before the group meets with Trump at about 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT).
Venture capital firms and portfolio companies also are expected.
Last year, the FCC cleared the way for 5G, a lightning-fast next generation of wireless services that lead to universal access to broadband wireless. 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 FCC said.
Policymakers and mobile phone companies have said 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. They face regulatory hurdles to adding infrastructure to create the system.
The 5G networks could help wirelessly connect devices such as thermostats or washing machines to facilitate the "internet of things." They could improve road traffic by monitoring sensors in streetlights and cars. It could even help detect air pollution using sensors in trees.
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.
The Obama administration implemented rules that opened the skies to low-level small drones for education, research and routine commercial use.
The Trump administration still is considering whether to allow a sweeping expansion in drone use for purposes such as deliveries where aircraft would fly beyond the sight of an operator.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bill Trott)