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FCC Chair's update on 5G wireless, robocalls, business data services & more

Tom Wheeler | Sept. 16, 2016
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's statement to U.S. Senate on Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission

Coupling this ultra-fast, low-latency, high-capacity connectivity with the almost unlimited processing power of the cloud will enable life-saving healthcare advances, smart-city energy grid and water systems, immersive education and entertainment, and, most importantly, new applications yet to be imagined.

MORE: 5G wireless standard getting more real

By approving the Spectrum Frontiers item, the United States became the first country in the world to open up high-band spectrum for 5G networks and applications.

We are repeating the proven formula that made the United States the world leader in 4G:  one, make spectrum available quickly and in sufficient amounts; two, give great flexibility to companies that can use the spectrum in expansive ways; and three, stay out of the way of technological development.  We will also balance the needs of various different types of uses in these bands through effective sharing mechanisms; take steps to promote competitive access to this spectrum; encourage the development of secure networks and technologies from the beginning; and remove unnecessary hurdles to siting and infrastructure deployment.

Business Data Services

The Commission’s Business Data Services proposal seeks to promote competition that will encourage innovation and investment.  Long known as Special Access, Business Data Services offer the kind of dedicated access that wireless providers need to connect cell towers and antennas to their networks.  Such dedicated network

connections are also used by small businesses, retailers, banks, manufacturers, schools, hospitals, and universities to move large amounts of data.

In many areas, however, competition in the supply of Business Data Services remains limited, and that can translate into higher prices for wireless networks and businesses, which then translates into higher prices for consumers.  In April, the Commission launched its Business Data Services proceeding to help address this challenge.

To seize the opportunities to increase the deployment of mobile networks and to move towards 5G connectivity, we’re going to need a lot more backhaul to handle the massive increase in data traffic.  Lack of competition doesn't just hurt the deployment of wireless networks today, it also threatens to delay the buildout of 5G networks with its demand for many, many more backhaul connections to many, many more antennas.  And it hurts the many businesses and institutions that rely on these services in an ever-increasing data-driven world.

The Commission has a long and complicated history with Business Data Services and the time has come for action.  Reform is supported by the nation’s leading wireless carriers, save one, and my goal is to conclude this proceeding no later than the end of this year.

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