Growth in Mobile Broadband Requires Industry-friendly Regulation
At the recent Global World Congress (GWC) held in San Francisco, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai presented some ways that he sees the government encouraging growth in the wireless industry.
Even though the government is slated to provided funding in the efforts to bridge the mobile digital divide, such as with the initiative called Mobility Fund Phase II, Pai believes that private network investment is far more important to this growth.
One of the ways he feels the government can help is to revise the existing net-neutrality policy. The FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal, which would gut existing net neutrality rules, would “encourage greater deployment and investment and bring digital opportunity to more Americans,” the chairman said.
One of the conference sponsors, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) has aligned with the FCC position that many of the regulations in place are limiting investment for the growth of broadband wireless. The GSMA — the CTIA’s global counterpart and its joint conference host, has released new research showing a thriving mobile industry. U.S. mobile operators invested more than $220 billion in both spectrum and network equipment from 2010 to 2016. Capex is projected to be $125 billion between 2017 and 2020, the report says.
In addition to reviewing net neutrality rules, Pai noted that the FCC is examining ways to streamline state and local rules that affect infrastructure deployment. They are also looking at policy reforms for pole attachments to make it easier for broadband providers to attach the wires and wireless equipment necessary for next-generation networks.
Concerns regarding siting and approval processes have become a top priority for carriers that look to densify their networks to increase capacity and improve coverage. The antennas, which can be as small as a lunchbox, can be placed on lamp posts or traffic lights.
Industry leaders continue to make the argument that industry-friendly regulations will allow the wireless sector to make a significant contribution to the economy. The U.S. created 2 million jobs last year, while 5G alone will create 3 million, said CTIA President and CEO Meredith Baker.