Carriers to FCC: 5G Coverage Data Too New to be Mandated

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Some of the major carriers are urging the FCC not to require them to submit detailed coverage information related to 5G. The issue arises as the agency is planning to require carriers to submit standardized, and more accurate, coverage data. The agency is soliciting input on how to update its Form 477 information, including considering crowd sourcing, Inside Towers reported.

The issue also coincides with carriers’ marketing push for 5G, with test labs and initial markets being lit up.

The agency voted in August to improve its broadband mapping process to better pinpoint where households and businesses have broadband and where broadband access is lacking. Commission officials said during the vote, the changes are meant to improve data collection while reducing the burden on carriers, Inside Towers reported. 

In recent comments submitted to the agency, AT&T said: “There is broad agreement that it is not yet time to require reporting on 5G coverage,” citing comments by CTIA, which represents AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. “[A]s CTIA points out, service standards for 5G are still emerging, precluding reporting of service-level coverage for 5G networks (other than the 5G-NR submissions already required,” wrote AT&T, Ars Technica reported. Verizon agreed, stating the standardization goal is easy to accomplish for a mature and widely deployed technology like LTE, but virtually impossible with 5G because there isn’t yet a deployment standard, reported Disruptive Asia.  

The NR mentioned earlier is a reference to the global standard 5G New Radio. CTIA told the agency in September it doesn’t object to the 5G NR requirement because it’s technical, and does not establish a customer service level. But requiring more than that would be “premature,” according to CTIA, “because industry consensus is still emerging around hot to best measure the deployment of this still-nascent technology.”

The Commission also voted in August to require home internet providers to submit geospatial maps of where they provide service rather than provide census block data. It hasn’t imposed that requirement on mobile carriers; the agency is still investigating complaints that Verizon and T-Mobile over-stated the extent of their 4G coverage, according to Ars Technica

November 12, 2019

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