US network construction unaffected by pandemic - Mobile World Live

US network construction unaffected by pandemic

19 MAR 2020

Mobile tower construction in the US continued unabated, despite several large companies telling staff to work from home and closing retail outlets to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus), the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) told Mobile World Live (MWL).

NATE executive director Todd Schlekeway said he is yet to hear of any major disruption to network deployments, even though there are concerns about the logistics of sending technicians into areas where businesses have been closed and potential health risks from staying in hotels.

In light of the outbreak, he added some NATE member companies obtained access letters from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) meant to ensure contractors have continued site access during shut-downs.

He explained the letters, valid unitl 28 May, ask local authorities to permit the holder to access communications infrastructure, albeit those regional bodies have the final say.

Under pressure
Though mobile teams are still at work, Schlekeway noted crews working in adjacent segments were starting to be recalled. Among them were teams working in the broadcast sector helping to clear 600MHz spectrum being redeployed for operators, some of which have suspended work for at least two weeks.

He also highlighted reports from NATE member companies warning about the potential of a shortage of materials, since a significant amount of supplies come from China and South Korea.

But contractors expressed optimism measures taken in both countries to curb the spread of the virus and reopen production facilities would help ensure a continued flow of materials.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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