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5G gets NTIA support

The wireless industry's expansion of next-generation 5G services has the critical support of the federal government, a senior leader at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said in recent remarks.

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"We must do everything we can to encourage infrastructure development," NTIA Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information David Redl said in remarks at a Feb. 6 broadband, media and internet conference.

His remarks followed a late-January kerfuffle over a leaked draft of a plan to nationalize commercial 5G networks because of security concerns. The White House quickly distanced itself from the presentation, however, and the official who authored the memo, Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding, has since exited the National Security Council.The federal government's role in 5G networks should be opening up more spectrum and facilitating infrastructure construction, including making it easier to place such infrastructure on federal land, Redl, said. As the largest landowner in the country, the federal government can be a critical resource for companies looking to expand broadband services, especially into rural areas, he added.

The patchwork of federal permitting, siting and regulations should be streamlined, Redl said. Those obstacles, he said, stand in the way of the build-out of backhaul connections as well as infrastructure that would support the small cells on which 5G will rely, such as poles, streetlights, rooftops and other structures.

An integral part of that streamlining, according to Redl, rests on an Executive Order and Presidential Memorandum issued by the White House in January supporting broadband tower facilities on federal properties.

The executive order calls for the continued implementation of the provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. That law requires the General Services Administration to develop a common master contract for wireless facility siting on buildings and other federally owned property.

The order said those common contracts would allow the government to more efficiently process wireless facility siting requests and provide more predictability for site availability to broadband providers. It gave GSA 180 days to evaluate the effectiveness of the Common Form Application with federal property managers and to report back.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN. 

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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