Carr: U.S. Needs to Ramp Up to 60,000 Cell Sites a Year

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Returning to the Competitive Carriers Association’s 2018 Annual Convention yesterday was a homecoming of sorts for FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. He gave his first speech as a Commissioner at that event, one year ago.

He said the agency began attacking a long list of pending items last year, including a swap-out order, or when a provider looks to replace a utility pole to add new antennas.

The FCC acted on twilight towers, built between 2001 and 2005, which did not necessarily go through historic review.  However, other parts of the federal government must now weigh in. The item could open up “thousands of existing towers [to] co-location,” Carr said. His colleague, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, wants the issue to be wrapped-up, Inside Towers reported.

But it became “clear that regulatory incrementalism was not going to cut it,” Carr said. “Whoever deploys 5G first, it’s about economic leadership for the next decade.” Noting that CCA members serve “some of the toughest-to-reach areas,” Carr said: “You work field-to-field, gravel road-to-gravel road. Those of us in government should work to make your jobs easier.”

“You made sure America was first in 4G. Winning the 5G race is the same. It determines whether capital flows here, and whether the economy that benefits is here,” said the Commissioner.

China is aggressively deploying cell sites, with 1.9 million already, Carr noted. “We have around 200,000. We need to ramp up to something like 60,000 new cells sites a year.”

That means, “We have to be honest about the infrastructure challenge. At the FCC, we’re getting government out of the way so you, the private sector, can compete.”

Speaking of the small cells siting order passed by the Commission last week, Carr said, “…the finish line is not deployments in New York or San Francisco, but when all Americans, no matter where they live, have a fair shot at fast, affordable broadband.”

October 3, 2018

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