5G technology is poised to transform the technological landscape across this country and around the world. It promises to accelerate data speeds, improve quality and unlock connectivity between machines, material and people.

U.S cities of every size are welcoming this state-of-the-art technology, as the global race for 5G is changing the dynamics around national security and the development of new technologies worldwide. Washington Post Live will convene key mayors to discuss how they are guiding their cities through this transformation, as well as top lawmakers to assess the role national security is playing during this pivotal time as governments from the U.S. to China vie for dominance in 5G.


Mayor Sam Liccardo

San José, California

Mayor Sam Liccardo took office in 2015. In his very first year, Sam settled intense battles over pension reform with 11 unions, saving taxpayers $3 billion over the next three decades and enabling the restoration of San José’s police force. Since then, he’s led the most successful period of economic growth in the city’s history, announcing major expansions from employers like Adobe, Apple, Broadcom, and Google.

Sam’s work to support job creation and responsible development in San José has always included an incredible focus on serving those who have traditionally been left behind. As part of his ambitious “Smart City Vision,” Sam strives to make San José the most innovative city in America while bridging Silicon Valley’s divide. Upon launching the nation’s first Digital Inclusion Fund, Sam’s leadership helped bring equitable access to broadband, devices, and skills to underserved communities. Sam’s “San José Works” program has also flourished across the city, providing summer and year-round jobs for more than 3,000 teens from gang-impacted neighborhoods.

As Mayor, Sam has implemented innovative approaches to reduce homelessness for vulnerable members of the community, including veterans, college students, and residents in need of interim housing. Sam represents San José on several boards and commissions—including the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Valley Transit Authority—and effectively championed measures that delivered much needed transit improvements throughout the region. Committed to taking bold steps to protect the environment, Sam helped preserve priceless open spaces for the future and establish groundbreaking renewable energy sources for San José.

A descendant of Sicilian and Irish immigrants, Sam’s lineage also includes the first Mexican settlers in the Bay Area. Sam graduated from Georgetown University and later attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard Law School for his master’s degree. After a career in public service as a criminal prosecutor at the local and federal level, Sam ran for San José City Council in 2006 and served two terms. Mayor Liccardo was re-elected with overwhelming support by San Joséans in 2018 and 76% of the vote.

Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding (Ret.)

Brig. Gen. Robert S. Spalding III assumed the duties of Special Assistant to the U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff in February 2018.General Spalding received his commission through Fresno State University’s ROTC program in 1991. He earned his doctorate in economics and mathematics from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 2007. The general attended undergraduate pilot training in 1993, and was subsequently assigned as a B-52 Stratofortress co-pilot in the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. He subsequently transitioned to the B-2 Spirit at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. In 2001, he was selected as one of three Air Force Olmsted Scholars, and was a distinguished graduate of Mandarin Chinese language training at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Afterward, the general attended Tongji University in Shanghai as a graduate research student. He then returned to Whiteman AFB as a B-2 evaluator pilot and assistant director of operations for the 393rd Bomb Squadron. The general was then assigned to the Office of Secretary of Defense’s Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office as the military assistant for the deputy assistant secretary of defense. During the Iraq surge in 2007, General Spalding deployed to Baghdad and directed the Personal Security Coordination Center. After a stint at the Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, he was reassigned to the B-2 at Whiteman AFB.While at Whiteman AFB, he was the chief of safety, operations group commander and vice wing commander. He was then selected as a Military Fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York. General Spalding then served as the chief China strategist for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, Washington D.C. His next assignment led him back to China as the Senior Defense Official and Defense Attache to China in Bejing, China. Prior to his current assignment he served at the White House as the Senior Director for Strategic Planning at the National Security Council, Washington D.C.

Diane Rinaldo, Senior Vice President at Beacon Global Strategies and Former Assistant Secretary of Commerce

Diane Rinaldo is one of the country’s leading authorities on 5G, telecommunications supply chain security, privacy, and Internet governance. Prior to joining BGS, Ms. Rinaldo served as Acting Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. During her time at NTIA, Ms. Rinaldo directed the Administration’s efforts on privacy; testified in the House of Representatives and Senate on 5G and Internet security issues; served as a principal advising the White House and Congress on 5G and supply chain; as well as other successes in education and deployment of Internet access around the world.

Prior to her Executive Branch service, Ms. Rinaldo served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where she focused on Congress’ landmark cybersecurity legislation, the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. She also served as Congress’ oversight and budget monitor for the National Security Agency and the defense network systems, and as Deputy Chief of Staff to Congressman Mike Rogers as his top technology policy staffer.

Ms. Rinaldo also spent time in the private sector as the Director of Government Affairs and cyber policy for SAP, and as a Vice President at a top consulting firm in Washington, DC.

Recognized for her work on cybersecurity, Rinaldo was awarded the Executive Women’s Forum’s 2016 Influencer of the Year award; was named one of the top ten people in Washington, D.C. impacting cyber legislation; and has consulted on movies and television.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Maine and an Executive Certificate from Harvard University for Cyber Studies.

Content from AT&T:

5G unleashes ultra-fast speeds, low latency and mass connectivity. These capabilities orchestrate a next-generation environment for ML, AI, automation, robotics, etc. We’ll hear from AT&T Business’s executive vice president of Customer Service & Operations, Sorabh Saxena, on how AT&T Business is transforming in this new era of 5G.


Sorabh Saxena, Executive Vice President of Customer Service and Operations at AT&T

Sorabh Saxena is Executive Vice President, Customer Service & Operations, AT&T Business. His organization is responsible for end-to-end operations supporting AT&T’s nearly 3 million business customers worldwide. In this role, Sorabh uses his vast executive leadership experience across technology and business to deliver solutions that provide a competitive edge to our customers.

Sorabh is credited with imprinting technology in all aspects of operations and delivering a best-in-class transformation program across an organization that allows continual incorporation of new capabilities and delivering at scale. The transformation has helped reduce cycle time, increase productivity, improve customer experience while continually bringing new products to the market. His holistic approach to transformation considers these core tenets: intently listening to the voice of the customer and employees, infusing data and analytics in all decision-making and developing plays that always have people, process, technology and culture aligned to ensure success.

Sorabh has led numerous other successful transformations and large scale programs across many AT&T business units delivering significant results across multiple dimensions. Most recently, he served as the CIO of Network and Shared Services where he was a key leader in AT&T’s pivot to software-defined network (SDN) products, services and platforms. Sorabh's team also led the realization of AT&T's IT 2020 playbook delivering some of industry's largest and most advanced API, data & analytics and digital platforms.

His many contributions to business and technology have been widely recognized including: ComputerWorld Premier 100 Technology Leaders and both American & International Business Awards for Executive of the Year. Through the collective efforts of AT&T Business associates, our customers recognized us with the J.D. Power 2020 Business Wireline Satisfaction Awards for Large Enterprise and Small/Medium Business. In both segments, AT&T ranked highest in all 6 factors – performance and reliability; cost of service; communications; sales representatives and account executives; billing; and customer service. This is the third straight year AT&T won the Large Business segment.

Interviewed by Elise Labott

Elise Labott is a leading journalist covering foreign US foreign policy and international issues, most recently as CNN’s Global Affairs Correspondent. She has reported from more than . 80 countries, traveled the world with seven secretaries of state and has interviewed many world leaders and newsmakers. Elise is the founder of Twopoint.o Media, a digital media platform that aims to engage, inform and inspire citizens to solve today’s most pressing global challenges, and an adjunct professor at American University’s School of International Service. She is a contributor to Politico, provides commentary for MSNBC, NPR, BBC and several other broadcast outlets and is a sought-after interviewer and moderator. Elise also serves as a global ambassador for Vital Voices, an organization that empowers female entrepreneurs around the world and is on the advisory committee of Global Kids DC, a program which introduces high school students in underserved communities to international affairs. Prior to joining CNN, Elise covered the UN for ABC News and also reported on diplomatic and foreign policy issues for Agence France-Presse and other publications. Elise is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a master’s degree from the New School for Social Research.