LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS AMERICAS 2017: Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure on Tuesday warned that the US risks losing its first mover advantage on 5G if government officials fail to “get their act together once and for all” to ease cell siting regulations.
Claure referenced the country’s patchwork of infrastructure rules, which vary from state to state and county to county across the US.
While some municipalities “get it”, Claure said it’s a struggle in many others.
According to Claure, who also serves as CTIA chairman, US operators are expected to invest a combined $275 billion to build 5G networks, creating three million new jobs and adding $500 billion to the US GDP in the process.
But cell site permitting and other government barriers to deployment put those benefits at risk.
Claure said he stressed the point in a recent meeting with US President Donald Trump.
“I showed him how small a small cell is and I told him ‘it takes just one hour to put in a small cell, but it takes us one year to get an approval to put in a small cell’,” Claure said. “I think the US – the federal government, your local government, and county government – we’ve got to find a solution, a fast one, if the US wants to continue to be the leader.”
Sprint is not alone in sounding this call for reform.
Fellow US mobile operators including Verizon and AT&T and industry association CTIA have urged the US Federal Communications Commission to take action to streamline small cell siting ahead of 5G.
Without action, Verizon earlier this year warned many small cell deployments face “long delays and excessive costs, hindering both wireless broadband deployment and US leadership in the race to 5G”.