O’Rielly, Industry Want FCC to Get Going on Wireless Auctions

Connect (X)

WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein opens Connect(X) followed by an interview of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly.

Photos by Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers (MORE PHOTOS)

Wireless Infrastructure Association President Jonathan Adelstein opened Connect (X) to a large crowd in the main ballroom at the convention center here in Charlotte, NC yesterday. He said the association works hard to put on a show that helps industry get business done.

Former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, now Special Counsel for law firm Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer, interviewed current FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly about a variety of topics. Asked about the world-wide race for 5G, he emphasized that in some countries, the government provides funds for private companies to deploy their communications networks, and here, private companies largely pay for it themselves.

The FCC’s job is to ensure all stakeholders have a level playing field to put them in a position to innovate and succeed, said O’Rielly. He ticked off recent actions the Commission has taken to clear out red tape to enable small cell deployment. O’Rielly said many municipalities are determined to extract high dollar amounts for small cell deployment; Adelstein said earlier that 20 states have passed legislation to ease such deployment.

The FCC is trying to free up as much spectrum as possible for wireless use. This November, auctions for spectrum in the 28 GHz and 24 GHz bands are scheduled. Inside Towers asked O’Rielly in an interview afterwards if the dates could slip. He said Chairman Ajit Pai “has not indicated there will be any sliding.”

Further, he tells Inside Towers: “I haven’t heard a clamor from people saying they should be scheduled differently.” O’Rielly has heard people ask the agency to partner the 24 GHz auction with other bands of interest. He agrees with fellow Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel there should be an auction schedule.

The Commission can now deposit auction upfront funds directly into the U.S. Treasury. O’Rielly told Inside Towers he put “a lot of heat” on his friends on the Hill and got the statute changed. “Now, we can go back to a schedule,” which will help carriers plan, taking into account when a company has capital available and “when you need to deploy depending on what carrier you are, your buildout model and what bands you want to use.”

“We’re sympathetic to what works in terms of scheduling and would want to have input on that,” he said.

Finally, Ed Davis, Former Police Commissioner, for the City of Boston, was interviewed by Chad Tucker, FirstNet Solutions Consultant Manager, AT&T. Davis said after the bombing of the Boston Marathon, many people couldn’t use their cell phones because the networks were overwhelmed. He said under the contract between FirstNet and AT&T, the carrier will provide preemption, so first responders will always have access to the communications they need. This will help police, fire, EMS and other first responders nationwide, said Davis.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

May 23, 2018         

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