Sprint Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure and a number of the company's other top officials visited the Federal Communications Commission last Tuesday to complain about the red tap surrounding 5G deployment, urging the regulator to do what it can to eliminate the barriers to the rollout of the next generation of wireless networks. The meeting detailed in last week's ex parte filing from Sprint saw the mobile service provider argue that the current state of the industry-wide regulations is significantly delaying its efforts to install the infrastructure it needs to improve the coverage and capacity of its network, in addition to inhibiting its 5G efforts, both in terms of small cell and macrocell deployment.
The move is just the latest step in Sprint's lobbying initiative aimed at removing various legal barriers to infrastructural buildouts in the United States. Last month, the Overland Park, Kansas-based telecom giant wrote to the FCC to highlight the same issue using an example of its recently proposed review of six cell sites in Chicago. Despite asking for approval of what it described as a minor revision of its existing sites that wouldn't require any ground disturbance or infrastructural changes, the company has been presented with a $90,000 review fee before local authorities even agreed to evaluate its request. The bill was justified by the fact that Sprint was forced to ask for approval from local tribal nations which the wireless carrier deemed unjust because none of the historic sites in the vicinity of its stations were related to tribal history. The delegate led by Mr. Claure once again recalled that example during its Tuesday meeting with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, though the federal regulator has yet to reveal how it responded to it.
Sprint recently vowed to start deploying a mobile 5G network in the U.S. over the first half of 2019, adding that its service will be offered alongside 5G-ready smartphones from a "leading Korean manufacturer," presumably referring to Samsung and its Galaxy S10 lineup expected to be launched early next year. Much like the other three national carriers, Sprint is expecting to offer countrywide 5G coverage by 2020, though it remains to be seen whether the current barriers to small cell deployment could delay such roadmaps.