SEC Chairman: We Want America to Lead the World in 5G

Sep 28

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently talked about the upcoming White House meeting which Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint are all expected to attend. The FCC Chairman says that it’s vital that we eliminate the local regulatory hurdles that are currently preventing 5G from being implemented in the US.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai via CNBC’s Squawk on the Street:

We Want America to Lead the World in 5G

We want America to lead the world in 5G just as we led the world in 4G. That, of course, takes private sector initiative but also requires government to set the stage in terms of getting the tools for the industry to use out there into the marketplace.

First, we want to outline a cross-government strategy, not just the FCC, but the entire Trump Administration is going to be on the same page in terms of asserting US leadership in 5g. We hope to learn from the industry is what are some of the necessary building blocks for 5g? We want America to be the home for innovation and investment for the next generation of wireless connectivity. We need to know what policies are needed in order to promote US leadership and I’m hoping it’ll be a very productive exchange.

I think there’s a strong case for optimism about it being sooner. We already see some of the nation’s biggest companies doing 5G trials and cities like Indianapolis. We see a lot of investment and innovation in some of the tech sectors but there’s also a reason to be concerned because we see a lot of the regulatory barriers to 5G deployment in terms of the infrastructure that is needed to get out there into the marketplace.

Local Government Regulations and Fees Holding Back 5G

These regulations are holding back the case for a 5G deployment. That’s part of the reason why the FCC has been focused on what I call our 5G Fast Plan – Facilitating America’s Superiority in 5G Technology. If we get the spectrum out there, incentivize infrastructure deployment, and modernize our regulations, I’m confident that we can hasten the day when Americans can turn to 5G just as they’ve come to rely on 4G.

We want to set the table so that every company, big and small, and regardless of where they happen to be trying to put deploy these 5G services, will be able to do so at scale in order to serve American consumers.

By far the biggest barrier is the domestic regulatory barriers that we face. For example, it takes one to two hours to install a small cell on a utility pole that’s necessary for 5G. In some cases, it can take a year or two years to get the regulatory approval for deploying that small cell. That by far is one of the greatest barriers to getting the wide-scale deployment of 5G technologies in the future.

Additionally, the spectrum that is necessary to get out into the marketplace has been a barrier. We’ve been working aggressively to fix that and we’ve already teed-up over the next year or so more spectrum for the commercial sector use then all of the mobile broadband providers today hold combined. I think those building blocks domestically are much more important for 5G in order to be deployed at scale.

We Don’t Want to Cede the Mantel of Wireless Leadership to China

China saw the success that the United States had in 4G and they want to claim that success for themselves. When it comes to 5G we want the United States to be the haven for innovation and investment not just out of some parochial concern but because we truly believe in a free and open Internet and the power of innovation and in the importance of the private sector leading this revolution. We think that this market-based approach is a superior one.

We, of course, don’t want to cede the mantle of wireless leadership to any other country and our concern is that if China is the first mover in 5G that they will be able to draw some of that capital, some of that talent, and ultimately some of that innovation to their shores.

I think about some of the applications here in terms of precision agriculture and telemedicine and the Internet of Things and all kinds of other applications we can’t even conceive today. All that could be on tap if we make the right decisions here in the United States and I think that’s going to be a boon for American consumers and for our Internet economy.



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