Things Are Getting Desperate in the 5G Small Cell Sector

What’s important here is that Crown Castle is not alone. Other companies, including Verizon, ExteNet Systems and MasTec, also have recently pointed to bureaucratic red tape as a drag on their small cell deployment efforts.

And that’s important because many see small cells as the only way to deploy super-fast 5G on high-band spectrum.

Concerns over lengthy construction timelines for small cells aren’t new. In fact, Sprint and its small cell vendor Mobilitie were fined $11.6 million for a program they started in 2014 to build small cells without waiting for the necessary permits from state and local governments. In 2017, Sprint’s former CEO Marcelo Claure reiterated complaints that it takes a year to get a permit to build a small cell but just one hour to install it.

In response, telecom lobbyists have been pushing bills through state legislatures designed to speed up the small cell construction process. According to CTIA — the nation’s main wireless industry trade association — almost half of US states have so far passed legislation designed to speed up small cell deployments.