Sprint presses FCC to eliminate barriers to 4G, 5G deployments

Sprint noted significant costs and delays it faces in the deployment of both macro and small cells that are essential to providing more coverage and capacity. (FierceWireless)

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure paid a visit to the office of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and others to talk about eliminating barriers to Sprint’s 4G and 5G deployments, among other topics.

Sprint referenced barriers that Sprint and others in the industry face as part of their efforts to deploy 4G and 5G services, according to an ex parte filing (PDF). Sprint urged the commission to quickly address the regulatory obstacles that make the densification of wireless networks so difficult.

“Sprint noted the significant costs and delays it faces in deployment of both macro cells and small cells that are essential to providing more coverage and capacity to America’s mobile broadband customers,” the carrier said.

By way of example, Sprint said it had received tribal review fee demands totaling $90,000 to review antenna modifications at six sites in Chicago.

RELATED: Sprint promises to launch nationwide mobile 5G network in first half of 2019

Claure said during Sprint’s fourth-quarter earnings call that it’s working with Qualcomm as well as network and device manufacturers on 5G in order to launch the “first truly mobile network” in the United States by the first half of 2019. Sprint plans to deploy antennas on its cell towers that support massive MIMO transmissions and upgrade that hardware to the 5G NR standard via a software update.

RELATED: Trump pledges to help speed up small cell siting processes

Claure and Sprint CTO John Saw were among a group of tech industry executives that visited President Donald Trump at the White House last year, where Claure described some of the hassles of small cell siting. Claure showed Trump a small cell that can be installed on a utility pole and said the problem is it takes a year to get approval to deploy and an hour to install it. He warned that unless the industry can install them faster, the U.S. is going to lose the leadership that it has in 5G.

During its meetings with the FCC this past week, which included other commissioners as well, Sprint thanked the commission for its ongoing efforts to complete the 800 MHz band reconfiguration initiative along the U.S.-Mexico border and stressed the need for continued involvement by the commission with its counterparts in Mexico to bring the project to a conclusion.