FCC Chairman Ajit Pai supports opening up more millimeter wave bands for 5G; he also says broadband should be included if Congress moves forward with a major infrastructure package. In his first major policy speech since becoming chairman of the agency, Pai said Wednesday at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute in Pittsburgh he intends to move forward “quickly” on the agency’s efforts to find additional spectrum for 5G deployment. He noted that streamlining rules to lower the cost of wireless infrastructure deployment (mentioned earlier in today’s newsletter) will be just as important.
The chairman asked the FCC’s bureaus to identify rules that raise the costs of broadband rollout. “If the benefits of those rules don’t outweigh their costs, we’ll begin the process of repealing them. Moreover, we must get rid of rules that force companies to spend money filling out paperwork instead of installing broadband.”
Pai said the agency must make it easier for providers to upgrade infrastructure, like replacing copper with fiber, noting that “every dollar spent maintaining an old network is a dollar that can’t be spent connecting more Americans to a next-generation network.”
Wired and wireless broadband networks are core components of our nation’s infrastructure, he believes, and proposes that any direct funding for broadband infrastructure appropriated by Congress as part of a larger infrastructure package should be administered through the FCC’s Universal Service Fund and targeted to areas that lack high-speed internet access. “To maximize the impact of these investments, you need to minimize waste,” says Pai, who adds the agency is on track to do that with the USF programs.
Congress should include his proposal for creating Gigabit enterprise zones in its infrastructure bill; that entails providing tax incentives for ISPs to deploy high-speed broadband services in low-income neighborhoods. “We would require local governments to make it easy for ISPs to deploy these networks,” he said.
March 16, 2017