FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr on Monday offered a blueprint for what he believes the agency should focus on this year and next for 5G and wireless infrastructure efforts. Speaking to the public policy think tank American Enterprise Institute, Carr, now the senior Republican on the dais, has spent years spearheading various agency 5G matters. He offered his thoughts as a point for discussion for Democrats, now in charge at the Commission, to find consensus and negotiate.
He stressed the need to get the agency’s broadband maps done this year. “We cannot start RDOF Phase II or the 5G Fund for Rural America—FCC initiatives that will extend high-speed infrastructure to unserved households—until we get those new maps completed. If we need to allocate more agency resources to this effort, then we should do so now,” he said.
One way to make the effort go faster is to start with a “targeted or 1.0 version,” narrowly focused on the data, and then add to the maps over time, he believes.
He promoted a “Federal Lands Desk” within the FCC to make it easier to site infrastructure on federal land. The FCC team will act as lead coordinator with other agencies. “Having a single agency contact for addressing the permitting delays that plague builds across federal lands could help break at least some of the log jams and make a difference for rural communities,” Carr said.
He wants to ensure the agency’s cost sharing rules for pole replacements aren’t inhibiting internet builds. A petition from 2020 could be implemented without too much fuss, he noted. Expanding the tower crews needed to complete 5G builds through Carr’s 5G jobs initiative is also a goal.
Carr wants to get more spectrum into industry’s hands. In 2021, the FCC should hold Auction 110 for the 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band as required by Congress at power levels that will support 5G builds, he believes. The agency is due to vote on an order Wednesday to spell this out. Carr also urges the majority to decide to hold Auction 108 for the 100+ MHz of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band this year.
Concerning 6 GHz, he said the FCC should adopt an order this year that permits very low power devices to operate in the 6 GHz band at 14 dBm. It would help power the augmented reality/virtual reality and other applications that will drive consumer demand for 5G devices, he explained.
Finally, Carr wants to increase power levels for CBRS operations in the 3.5 GHz band. “Upping the power levels here would help align the U.S. band plan with international standards and create efficiencies for mid-band 5G builds in the U.S. that could span the 3.45 GHz to C-band spectrum ranges,” said Carr.