Former FCC Chair: US Should Ease 5G Regs To Be Competitive

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Building out 5G networks is imperative to the U.S., as China aggressively moves forward with rolling out the next-generation wireless technology, former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Reed Hundt told CNBC on Monday (Dec. 9). The next-generation 5G mobile network provides accelerated data speeds to advance developing technologies like autonomous vehicles.

“It’s a national imperative,” said Hundt, leader of the agency from 1993 to 1997, on “Squawk on the Street.” He added that there are two ways the U.S. government can unlock 5G deployment.

The first way concerns the federal trial over the possible merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The case was initiated by 14 state attorneys general, who believe the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FCC should not have approved the deal. The regulators felt that the merger could adversely impact wireless competition, and ultimately harm consumers.

“This trial is very, very much about who will be able to get spectrum to build these 5G networks,” said Hundt, now CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital, referring to the DOJ’s T-Mobile and Sprint settlement — which includes provisions that could make it easier for Dish to build 5G networks.

According to the FCC agreement, Dish can institute a 5G network that will touch 70 percent of the U.S. population by June 2023. If Dish fails to meet that deadline, it will pay the U.S. Treasury up to $2.2 billion.

Hundt noted that “the second way in which the government can unlock nationwide 5G is if the FCC releases additional 5G spectrum from the ‘regulatory swamp’” to enable companies to purchase it, and “further build out networks.” He added that the U.S. needs to move fast, “and solve our own political and regulatory problems” to employ the 5G gamut.

Retailers, healthcare providers and other operations with a firm footing in the digital economy are seeking, finding and crafting use cases for 5G, which, above all, promises speedier and more robust information flows among people and businesses.