Carr is FCC’s Point Man for Easing Wireless Infrastructure Deployment

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New FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr is leading the agency’s efforts to streamline wireless infrastructure deployment. In his first speech as a Commissioner, Carr told attendees of the Competitive Carriers Association annual convention yesterday, the FCC intends to vote next month on several related orders. One eliminates the need for historic preservation review in cases where providers swap out utility poles that can hold antennas or other wireless communications equipment. This will go a long way towards helping carriers as they densify their networks in preparation for 5G, he said.

“5G is going to require a 10- to 100-fold increase in the number of cell sites in the country,” Carr said. “The current regime is not tailored to support this type of massive, new deployment. It costs too much, and it takes too long.” So the Commission is remedying this.   

He’s heard the complaints about exorbitant siting fees being charged by some municipalities. “That’s why I was disappointed to see, for example, that last week the Governor of California vetoed a small cell bill that garnered the support of the state’s legislature. This only increases the necessity, I think, for the FCC to take action,” Carr said.  

Inside Towers reported on concerns about having enough workers to handle the TV repack, 5G, and FirstNet, in addition to routine maintenance, as all these projects hit at once. Carr said he had “a wakeup call” during a roundtable discussion outside of Baltimore last month. A range of stakeholders—“from wireless carriers to independent infrastructure providers—talked about the shortage of skilled workers that can deploy the small cells, distributed antenna systems, and other infrastructure necessary for 5G,” he said.

While not directly under the FCC’s purview, Carr believes the agency should focus “additional attention” on the issue as well as “potential solutions, including the role that apprenticeship and other job training programs can play.” That’s why he plans to take part in a Department of Labor event next month on workforce development.  

October 27, 2017

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