Regulatory Reform at the FCC Means More Innovation

By Jamie Belcore Saloom, Assistant Chief Counsel

This Thursday, March 22, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote on a regulatory reform measure that will free up what some analysts estimate will be over 1 billion dollars in investment capital for wireless carriers to build out 5G networks.

5G is the next game-changer in the connectivity space—it will empower Internet of Things technology like automated cars and telehealth through reliable, high-speed, low latency connections. Small innovative businesses should big players in the 5G economy and it is essential that the U.S. leads the deployment of new technologies that 5G networks make possible.

The way 5G networks will be deployed will look different too. Small-cell technology means that carriers won’t need to build looming cell-phone towers, but will instead be installing small devices that can be mounted on lampposts, street signs or buildings. The FCC’s current regulations treat small cells and cell phone towers equally—meaning carriers have to conduct the same costly environmental and historical preservation reviews that they are required to produce when they build 100-foot or higher structures, just to install devices that are not much larger than shoe-boxes. Recognizing the opportunity costs of its existing regulatory scheme, the FCC’s draft final rules outline a plan that will reduce the cost of installing small cell devices. This change may result in significant cost-savings for small businesses that are planning to deploy 5G networks, and speed the deployment of 5G networks that innovative small companies will need in the future.

The FCC’s plan is an example of smart regulatory reform that recognizes the costs that one-size-fits-all regulation can have on innovation and growth. Advocacy supports agencies achieving its mission with less burdensome cost alternatives for small businesses.

Jamie Belcore Saloom is the Assistant Chief Counsel for Intellectual Property and Telecommunications. She can be reached at

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