In November 2017, Barry Umansky, Professor of Telecommunications at Ball State University wrote in an article titled, “Curing Communications Policy Myopia,” which was published in Light Reading, “When government partners with businesses to remove barriers to the provision of valuable and affordable services to the public, the entire community is a winner. Now that we’re deeply embedded in the digital broadband age, it is essential that government officials take a thoughtful and pro-consumer stance in setting public policy for well established, relatively new and also proposed communications technologies.”
His article reflected on times in history when federal governments worldwide have led regulations that favor industry to the benefit of society – from “HAM” radio to cable TV. The arrival of 5G, I believe, is another such time to ensure there are fair, equal, and safe rules for small cell access to existing infrastructure such as power polls, street lights, and bus shelters.
The United States government agrees.
The US Federal Communications Commission has last month approved an order to accelerate the national approval process for deploying 5G small cells, essential for 5G deployments in the US. Planning, site acquisition, and infrastructure deployment make large scale deployment of small cells highly challenging. The new order streamlines the current process, reinforcing US leadership by helping to accelerate the deployment of 5G networks.
Spectrum for 5G is also important, and governments worldwide need to align on common spectrum bands for 5G in order for the eco system, including IoT devices, to scale.
Groups like The Facebook-initiated Telcom Infra Project (TIP) are investigating how to automate the process of network planning for small cells to make large scale deployment viable, and the FCC will continue looking into additional ways to speed deployment, but this is a good start.