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Coronavirus Roundup: FCC Announces 5G Initiatives, ATIS Calls for 6G, Complaints on Broadband Carriers Disconnecting

David Jelke

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Photo of Commissioner Brendan Carr by Gage Skidmore used with permission

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Brendan Carr announced on Tuesday that the FCC will vote on Pai’s 5G Upgrade Order, the latest of the agency’s initiatives to accelerate America’s wireless infrastructure builds.

“America’s tower crews and telecom techs are building the strongest 5G network in the world,” Carr said. “Their efforts already are creating new jobs and opportunities in towns across the country. By streamlining tower upgrades, we will encourage even more investment in our communities and new service to connect families.”

If adopted, the 5G ruling would clarify the FCC’s 2014 rules by:

  • Explaining when the 60-day shot clock for local approval begins
  • Specifying what new equipment qualifies for streamlined approval
  • Clarifying how local governments’ concealment and aesthetic conditions of approval apply
  • Asking for public comment on what activity related to a modification can occur outside of a wireless site

The benefits of the order would be multifaceted, Carr said.

“Rural America will benefit from new competition for their broadband dollars. First responders will benefit from dedicated networks and expanded capacity. And all Americans will benefit from world-leading wireless service as existing towers are upgraded to 5G,” he said.

Computer & Communications Industry Association President Matt Schruers reacted positively to the announcement.

“Recent events have shown that reliable networks are necessary for Americans to work and learn remotely,” he said. “Upgrading to 5G networks is a critical step in building the infrastructure needed for the 21st century, CCIA supports the Commission’s efforts to facilitate 5G deployment.”

ATIS Issues a Call to Action to Promote U.S. 6G Leadership

The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions on Wednesday announced a call to action with a vision for collaboration across government, academia and industry to promote U.S. leadership on the path to 6G.

ATIS argued that the timeline for 6G development has already begun, as today’s investments in 5G networks, devices and applications already point toward the future opportunities for 6G. The letter insisted that the next decade must start now with deliberate, collaborative steps and an aligned commitment between government and industry to ensure the U.S. maintains a competitive technology position in 5G networks today and 6G networks in the future.

“COVID-19 has brought unprecedented economic and public health challenges, and it has also shone a spotlight on the critical role of communications networks in our daily lives, as the connective fabric between people,” said Susan M. Miller, President and CEO, ATIS. “While innovation can be triggered in reaction to current market needs, technology leadership at a national level requires an early commitment and development that addresses U.S. needs as well as a common vision and set of objectives.”

In an exclusive Expert Opinion for Broadband Breakfast, “Promoting U.S. Leadership on the Path to 6G Technologies,” ATIS President Susan Miller and Vice President of Technology and Solutions Mike Nawrocki address steps the federal government can take to establish the U.S. as a leader in the next decade of technology advancements.

Hundreds of Americans complain about the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge

The FCC has received over 2,000 complaints related to the coronavirus in the past couple weeks, 500 of which were about Chairman Ajit Pai’s Keep America Connected Pledge, according to The Verge.

The pledge, issued in March and extended through June, urges the nation’s service providers to not terminate internet service towards residents who can’t pay their bills during the pandemic.

“It’s my understanding that most of the complaints that we have received about the pledge have been resolved to ensure that the consumer remains connected,” Pai said. “The other COVID-19 complaints involve questions about billing or network issues or broadband access generally.”

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