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FCC dismisses 5G slowdown pleas from local and national politicians

Despite pleas from politicians, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has refused to slowdown the 5G machine as a Declaratory Ruling slashes the red tape clogging the gears.

This move from the FCC was a simple one; reduce the bureaucratic complications associated with deploying or upgrading telecoms network infrastructure. Cumbersome policies and application procedures in local Government is not a challenge unique to the US, but this is an attempt to ease the painful process of dealing with public servants.

However, with the onslaught of COVID-19, there have been calls to delay any action. The Democrat FCC Commissioners wanted a postponement, while the Democrat members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee made the same request.

“And the argument that local governments have not had a sufficient opportunity to weigh in on these issues has no merit,” Pai said.

“The petitions on which we are acting today were filed in August and September of 2019, well before the COVID-19 pandemic. And the entire period for public comment on those petitions took place last year – also well before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Although there is an argument to offer more time, you there is also an argument against it. The authorities in question had more than six months to contribute. Sometimes people have to learn the hard way not to leave jobs until the last minute.

Pai and his Republican cronies resisted the calls, suggesting the industry needs to press forward to challenge other nations in the 5G world, however there is still plenty on the horizon which could stagger 5G progress in the US:

  • The C-Band auction (3.7-4.2 GHz), scheduled to take place in December, is currently under threat from legal action from the satellite broadcast industry
  • The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) report on how to free up assets in the 3.1-3.55 GHz spectrum band is stalling as incumbents are not being co-operative
  • The FCC is currently running a public consultation to amend rules for radiofrequency emission exposure limits (Docket 19-226), with a significant number of negative comments for the 5G industry
  • No-one really knows how the increasingly bitter political conflict between the US and China will impact the industries ability to operate efficiently

The final point is a very interesting one. We live and work in a globalised economy. The more conflict arises, the greater the risk that supply chains break down and business is impacted.

US sanctions are effective against Huawei as there isn’t a single company which doesn’t have an element of the US in its supply chain, but the same can be said the other way. China is the factory floor of the world, and we suspect that every US company will have some trace of China in its supply chain. Reciprocal action from Beijing could be a disaster.

In short, the longer these two economic superpowers clash, the greater the risk of chaos. No-one is sheltered from the fallout, such is the complex, global and interwoven nature of supply chains.

Theoretically, the Declaratory Ruling which has been made this week should grease the wheels of progress. On certain elements, the telcos will not have to make additional applications, while some requirements for environmental impact reports have also been removed.

There is plenty which can still go wrong, but this is a step in the right direction. There will of course be other bureaucratic nightmares in local Government, but this is one area which has seemingly been fixed.


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