FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr on 5G


This edition of the podcast features Commissioner Brendan Carr, the FCC’s 5G champion. Carr was promoted from Chief Counsel to Commissioner in August. Since his swearing-in he’s taken up the mantle of promoting 5G networks.

This includes identifying and removing barriers to deployment as well as exploring the opportunities this new generation of wireless networks create. Thus far, he’s proposed making new spectrum bands available, rationalizing permitting processes on tribal lands, and encouraging states and cities to take the long view the benefits of 5G to their economies.

Some of the key points in this twenty minute podcast:

  • 5G is a platform that gives all the interesting new apps in medicine, transportation, and IoT a network push. Without network support, these things don’t happen.
  • 5G will have a longer ramp-up period for deployments than previous networks because it’s more complex, incorporating millions of new cells along  layering on existing networks.
  • Regulatory reform is vital because of all the construction and the lower-cost equipment.
  • Obstacles exist in all sorts of communities, both technical and political.
  • A 5G cells only takes hours to deploy, but can take years to approve unless we can streamline the permitting process.
  • As much as 30% of deployment costs for small cells are regulatory; chiefly, complying with macro-cell regulations. This is wrong.
  • 5G is not just faster Internet although it is that; mainly, it’s support for new use cases that do things we’ll never see on the traditional web.
  • We’re looking at up to $275B in network investment to make 5G a reality.
  • One benefit: more competition for broadband thanks to fixed wireless to homes.
  • 5G is not must millimeter waves, it’s all the other bands as well, including some satellite bands that need to come down to earth, such as the 3.7 GHz satellite C band.
  • Some state and local governments still see 5G as a revenue opportunity; this is sad.
  • 5G will be a software-dominated network; this creates opportunities for companies that haven’t been players in networking so far and underlies great vistas of innovation.

We have some excellent FCC commissioners these days. Considering where we are in the evolution of wireless networks, this is not just good, it’s essential.