President Donald Trump is in the midst of another round of meetings with tech titans, and carrier chats are on the agenda.
According to Reuters, top officials from AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon will be getting in some face time with the commander-in-chief to talk about advanced wireless technologies like 5G and drones. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, and AT&T Head Randall Stephenson are on the guest list, as are FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and CenturyLink CEO Glen Post. The meetings are scheduled for Thursday, when Reuters indicated the execs will help Trump tackle the topic of how government can clear the way for technology breakthroughs.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told Reuters the meeting will include “demonstrations of how these technologies will contribute to the 21st century economy.” But that showcase may be limited to just words and slideshows. The FCC last week denied an application from Ericsson and Sprint that sought permission to conduct a 5G demonstration at the White House on June 22.
Some of the key points the execs might push relate to 5G and the need for both more spectrum and denser networks for that technology. Carriers have almost universally decried delays in local site permitting processes for expanded small cell deployments, and industry groups including CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association have pushed the FCC to open up more spectrum for wireless use.
For its part, the FCC is moving ahead with a measure that would streamline small cell siting across the country. The agency last year also freed up nearly 11 GHz of millimeter wave spectrum for licensed and unlicensed 5G use, and recently concluded its broadcast incentive auction of 600 MHz spectrum. More auctions are in the pipeline, but Commissioner Mignon Clyburn this week warned budget cuts and low staffing levels at the FCC could hinder progress on those events.
Other topics of discussion could include the roll back of regulations like Title II – which some have said stifled broadband investments – and business tax reform. Carrier executives were quite enthusiastic about the latter prospect following Trump’s election in November. Stephenson in January said business tax reform would serve as a stimulus for investment, and in turn, the company’s bottom line.
“I’m actually of a mindset that if we get a tax reform, we could exit this year doing something better than what is in this plan,” Stephenson said at the time. “If we get tax reform, I do think that there is upside to these economic forecasts. And if we get tax reform, I would suggest that maybe upside to these guidance that we are giving you but it’s wait and see.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations