Pai: Broadband Infrastructure Needs to be ‘Smart, Not Dumb Pipes’

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is committed to making it easier for companies to deploy broadband infrastructure and a “light touch” regulatory approach from the Commission in general. Speaking to attendees at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday, Pai recognizes that building, maintaining and upgrading broadband networks for 5G will be expensive.

The 5G future will require much infrastructure to densify networks. “Operators will have to deploy millions of small cells, and many more miles of fiber and other connections to carry all this traffic. Doing all this will command massive capital expenditures,” Pai said. And that infrastructure needs to be “smart, not dumb pipes,” says Pai.

On his current job for five weeks, he said government should set rules to maximize broadband investment, otherwise “the price could be steep. The more difficult government makes the business case for deployment, the less likely it is that broadband providers big and small will invest the billions of dollars needed to connect consumers with digital opportunity.”

Going forward, the FCC will not focus on denying Americans free data or “issuing heavy-handed decrees inspired by the distant past,” said Pai. He pledged the approach to broadband policy will be practical; “We will embrace what works and dispense with what doesn’t,” including removing barriers to investment and innovation.

March 1, 2017

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