Pai Praises Tower Workers, T-Mo-Sprint

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai lauded tower workers in a speech before the New York State Wireless Association on Friday.

Noting that the industry risks significant amounts of capital to make ubiquitous, high-speed connectivity a reality, “your line workers literally risk their lives to build out these networks,” said Pai. “Last year, I climbed a 131-foot tower in rural Colorado, and I thought that was heady stuff. Some of your crews go up towers that are significantly taller like it’s just an ordinary day at the office, because, for them, it is.”

Highlighting the agency’s actions to clear red tape and modernize its rules to speed wireless infrastructure deployment, Pai said the Commission takes steps to strike the right balance on regulatory oversight, rather than blindly applying red tape to every proposed infrastructure project. An example is the agency unanimously clearing the way for a tower project in upstate New York last week.  

“The proposal was meant to replace two communications towers with a single new tower providing critical public safety communications — but it had been delayed for years, caught in bureaucratic red tape,” said Pai. “After reviewing the facts, which included consideration of environmental impacts by a New York trial court, the Commission unanimously concluded that construction could proceed.”

Finally, the Chairman referenced the proposed T-Mobile acquisition of Sprint. Discussing freeing up more mid-band spectrum for 5G, Pai said, “one of the most critical steps that the FCC can take is to approve” the deal. “The record before the FCC makes clear that each company standing alone does not have the capacity to deploy 5G in this spectrum throughout large parts of rural America.”

But the combined entity would, he emphasized. “They have committed to the FCC that they will deploy mid-band 5G to 88 percent of our nation’s population, including two-third of rural Americans.” In addition, there would be significant financial penalties if they did not meet these commitments, he added.  

June 24, 2019

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