Pai Talks 5G Build, Workforce Needs at CES

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says the U.S. will lead in 5G. Broadband will benefit both urban and rural areas, he said at CES 2020 on Tuesday. Pai urged businesses to prioritize staff training to avoid impeding the rollout.

Pai was interviewed during a keynote by Consumer Technology Association President/CEO Gary Shapiro.

 Shapiro said preparing employees for future jobs is “the right thing to do for workers,” and key to ensuring there are a sufficient number of suitable candidates, reported Mobile World Live. “If we can’t lead the world in innovation, if we can’t access the skilled workers we need, we’re not going to do well as an economy, as a country.”  

Asked whether 5G will be used more in urban and suburban areas, Pai said in terms of smartphones, 5G might be more if a “big city use case,” but he sees potential for fixed wireless in rural areas, explaining why he was keen on trials for the 2.5 GHz band, according to Broadcasting and Cable.

Shapiro cited Microsoft’s airband initiative as a solution for closing the digital divide. Airband uses TV White Spaces and other technologies for unlicensed use. Pai supports that and other innovative solutions.

Concerning 5G, spectrum is a constraint, according to Pai, who added that’s why the agency is focused on freeing up more for wireless use. He didn’t offer any update on when the FCC would act on the C-band for licensed and 6 GHz for unlicensed use.

Finding qualified workers to build the infrastructure is tough too, according to the chairman. “There aren’t a lot of crews,” Pai said, reported Politico. “The job is extremely demanding.” 

Pai suggested the FCC will work on more of the challenges this year facing small cell deployment. Asked by Shapiro what Congress can offer, Pai said lawmakers could “provide more clarity around spectrum policy.”

January 9, 2020

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