LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS AMERICAS 2018: Meredith Attwell Baker, CTIA president and CEO (pictured), highlighted the rapid progress being made on 5G in the US, while noting the importance of having policies in place to support operator rollouts.

“A year ago, when we were together in San Francisco, there were no 5G deployments planned. But our industry has responded to that decisively: the first 5G deployments are happening now, in cities across the country. By this time next year we will have more than 50 5G cities,” she said.

Attwell Baker continued: “Leading in 4G was critical to growing our economy and creating jobs. Make no mistake about it, other countries see what 4G leadership has meant for America, and they want it for 5G. We want that innovation to happen here.”

The CTIA chief noted that a recent study put the US in a tight race with China and South Kora for 5G. “The key difference? Their governments are moving aggressively to free-up huge blocks of spectrum and to accelerate deployment.”

With plans afoot for making high band spectrum available, “our real challenge is mid-band”, which offers frequencies that deliver both coverage and capacity. Ground work on mid-band allocation is underway, but “the trick is translating those into real auction schedules, with real clearing targets, and fast.”

Also noted was the need for cell siting reform: “We are competing with nations that approve new wireless sites in weeks, or even days,” she said. “We need the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to give clear directions to localities on procedures and fees, for tomorrow’s 5G networks.”

She concluded: “Policymakers are critical to our success, critical to how quickly we reach more communities, and critical to make sure we have the ability and resources we need to scale 5G. Just as carriers and equipment companies are answering the challenge, our key policy makers are too. The FCC and the administration know we have to win this race.”