- Reducing the timeline for 5G infrastructure deployment by one year — which could be done by updating federal, state and local rules for infrastructure installation — could pump an additional $100 billion into the U.S. economy, according to a new analysis from Accenture commissioned by CTIA.
- The report looked at the impact of streamlining rules around small cells deployments, by creating new fee structures and aligning right-of-way requirements at different levels of government.
- Building out a 5G network will depend on the installation of 300,000 small cells, according to the report, making infrastructure requirements one of the biggest barriers to full-scale deployment.
As companies race to get their own 5G networks online, the U.S. is also competing with other countries to be the world leader in 5G. T-Mobile CEO John Legere made waves this spring when he told CNBC, "We are behind China" on 5G (although he promised that his company’s merger with Sprint would push the U.S. market forward). While companies are promising to have 5G active in some markets by the end of the year, they’re also looking for help wherever possible to ensure that small cells can be installed and used, including partnerships with cities like ones three companies struck with San Jose,CA to accelerate installation.
Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA President and CEO, said in a statement the latest report illustrates "the importance of an updated federal framework to help accelerate small cell installations and boost economic activity in communities across the country." Updating infrastructure rules, she added, "is key to the United States winning the global race to 5G and unlocking the benefits that will come from the next generation of wireless."
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking steps to ease infrastructure delays, with a planned vote on a policy that would make it easier to put new attachments for 5G or other networks on utility poles. In a Medium post, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the streamlined "make ready" order, which allows companies to install new infrastructure on any pole, will "accelerate network buildout and make it easier for new entrants to provide more broadband competition." In August, the commission will also set the parameters to auction off high-band frequency spectrum for 5G deployment.
Besides offering faster wireless speeds to customers, 5G will help smart cities by increasing the number of antennas and thus wireless access for traffic lights, electric grids, connected cars and other infrastructure. A previous Accenture analysis found that the economic benefits of 5G could boost GDP by $500 billion, in part by boosting smart cities technology. Accelerating the growth of the network by relaxing infrastructure delays will help those benefits arrive even faster.