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CES 2019: Tech policy execs call for privacy, infrastructure reform to boost 5G

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CES 2019: Tech policy execs call for privacy, infrastructure reform to boost 5G

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Policy executives from prominent technology and telecom companies called for policy reforms on various issues to help 5G flourish at CES 2019 in Las Vegas.

Melissa Glidden Tye, vice president of public policy at Verizon Communications Inc., called on U.S. Congress to pass a federal privacy standard during a Jan. 8 discussion on policy priorities to preserve U.S. leadership in burgeoning technologies like 5G, self-driving vehicles and the internet of things.

"We’re hopeful that Congress will pass federal privacy legislation in 2019 that gives consumers across the nation assurance and a better understanding of how their data is being used ... that it’s being used in ways that they’re aware of; and that companies are being transparent, and that companies are protecting the data in ways that are appropriate given the nature of the data," she said.

Tye also called on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to open up more midband spectrum. The FCC voted unanimously in July 2018 to move forward on a proposal that seeks to add a mobile allocation in midband to the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz band so that it can be used to deliver next-generation 5G services.

Infrastructure legislation was also a hot topic at the event.

"The roads of America need to be improved, and that takes infrastructure investment," said John Godfrey, senior vice president of public policy for Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. subsidiary Samsung Electronics America Inc. “While you’re at it, why not make sure that those roadways have communications linked? Whether it’s fiber in the road or wireless or both, why not make sure that those roads have sensors associated with them as well?"

Godfrey also advised municipalities that want 5G investment to cultivate regulatory environments friendly to investment in 5G.

"To be a 5G community, means having a regulatory environment that is conducive to investment in 5G, so that carriers and new entrants as well that are going to be coming in to offer services in 5G will be able to deploy costs effectively," he said. "So that means things like having a reasonable time period for approval of deployment of infrastructure and reasonable fees for deployment of infrastructure."

In September 2018, the FCC approved an order that aims to make it easier for network operators to deploy small cells and to speed up 5G infrastructure deployment. Specifically, the order implements an existing federal law prohibiting municipalities from blocking the deployment of wireless service, including small cells, which are cellular base stations and antennas that are typically the size of a pizza box. It also limits states and local governments from charging more than "objectively reasonable" costs for reviewing small cell siting applications from network operators like AT&T Inc., Verizon, T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp.

However, the order has set off a big legal battle with some municipalities and carriers, such as AT&T and Sprint, challenging the commission's order.

For her part, Tye defended the order by calling the provisions "guardrails," and said it left a lot of room for cities to still engage where there are aesthetic and financial concerns. She also advised local communities to create a regulatory environment that carriers would be able to afford deploying their technology into.

"The bottom line is that we have limited capital," she said. "And when we’re deploying this technology, it’s going to go to places that are easier to work with. And where it’s not crazy expensive for us to put in our fiber or attach a small cell.”

Additional coverage from CES 2019:

IBM taps crowd-sourced data streams to better predict the weather

Intel unveils new AI, 5G support processors

LG teases 5G phone, rollable TV