LIVE FROM CES 2020, LAS VEGAS: US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai (pictured, left) pointed to high costs, limited spectrum availability and a shortage of construction staff as key constraints on 5G rollouts in the country.

Pai said the FCC had “a lot of irons in the fire” on the spectrum front, with work underway to open airwaves in the 2.5GHz, 3.5GHz, 3.7GHz, 4.9GHz, 5.9GHz, 6GHz and mmWave bands. But he noted “every single band has incumbents,” making it increasingly difficult to bring new spectrum to market.

The chairman called on Congress to act on spectrum policy, asking politicians to create federal legislation to streamline small cell siting regulations. The FCC adopted new siting rules in recent years, but faced opposition from a number of states.

Pai said Congressional action could help settle the issue, cutting red tape and costs for operators.

“This is one of the roadblocks…It’s not just the national government that regulates in this area, it’s many other layers of government, and that’s not something that’s conducive to infrastructure investment”.

He also highlighted issues operators face trying to find construction teams to build networks, noting it is “difficult to find people to do this work…the job is extremely demanding”.

Pai said he plans to tackle all such issues over the next 12 months, but added an FCC push to create a three-digit national suicide prevention hotline as the project closest to his heart.