Spectrum, siting and data privacy are among the top policy issues impeding U.S. progress in the global race to 5G, according to a power-packed panel of leading women in the Telecom industry who spoke at the Competitive Carriers Association Mobile Carrier Show last week.
The women’s leadership panel emphasized the role that policy will play in overcoming challenges facing the Telecom industry today if the U.S. aims to remain competitive in the race towards 5G.
“Spectrum policy is number one on our list. We need fewer regulatory hurdles to getting enough spectrum,” said Kathleen Ham, senior vice president of Government Affairs at T-Mobile underscoring its significance in remaining ahead of other countries especially China.
Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of Ericsson North America Amy McCune emphasized the significance of siting policy in the expansion to 5G.
“As we march forward in the race to 5G, there’s a need for three times more sites than what we have today. If you think about competition in the global sense, China has spent $24 billion more than us on 5G. For every 10,000 people in China, there are about 14 sites, and in the U.S. there are less than five sites for the same number of people,” McCune said.
McCune, who added that currently for every 10,0000 people in China, there are about 14 sites compared with the U.S. which has less than five sites for the same number of people was referencing a recent study by Deloitte. According to Deloitte, China has built 350,000 new cell sites, while the U.S. has built fewer than 30,000 in the same time-frame.
The good news for building owners and landlords is that better sitting policy will result in increased revenues as carriers start to rent space to add new cell sites across the U.S. in efforts to ramp up their buildouts.
And overall the uncertainty around all of these issues causes massive delays in investment and impacts rural advancement said Maureen Moore, chief customer experience officer at GCI, the largest Alaska-based telecommunications provider.
Michele Farquhar partner at Hogan Lovells who helps U.S. and global firms on communications policy initiatives, regulatory strategy and issues involving international jurisdictions emphasized the role of user privacy laws such as GDPR and the rise in nationalism evidenced by Brexit as among the most significant factors impacting the global expansion of Telecom.
Panelists also discussed the significance of diversity and inclusion in the Telecom industry.
While diversity has been challenging, it’s critical to the industry’s growth the panelists said, unanimously adding that the push towards inclusion must come from the highest levels of the company.
“When I see homogenous hiring happening through a company and a lack of diversity it’s because you [the company] are not pushing for it,” said Wallace.
Farquhar who advises firms on global regulatory strategy emphasized the importance of diversity in navigating through backdoors. “Diverse perspectives are often needed to get in through back and side doors where the real decision makers are,“ she said.
Ham who leads the government affairs division at T-Mobile stated, “We are very dedicated to diversity and inclusion and people from the highest level of our company are engaged in this. We want to make sure our employees are able to reflect our customer base.”
Creating a culture of inclusion is vital to attracting and retaining a talented workforce of Millennials and Gen Zs who value a diverse workplace culture, added McCune.
“Culture is extremely important to today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. We are really attuned to that,” she said.