Crown Castle helps fund Texas 5G Alliance to smooth small cell deployments

A new organization funded in large part by tower and small cell vendor Crown Castle aims to educate Texans about the importance of 5G network technology and how small cells will play a role in the technology’s rollout. The new Texas 5G Alliance is just the latest effort by the wider wireless industry to speed up the deployment of wireless infrastructure like small cells, an effort that industry players have argued has been hindered by local regulations.

“The Alliance will focus on the education and advocacy for the rapid deployment of this technology in Texas, making our state the global leader in this technology infrastructure race,” the association said in a release. Crown Castle, Dell, T-Mobile, Google Fiber, Ericsson, Bypass Mobile, Carnegie Technologies, SmartAustin, Verticom, Tech Titans and the Austin Chamber of Commerce are members of the association.

A spokesperson for the association said that Crown Castle is the primary financer for the Texas 5G Alliance. The association’s Scott Dunaway also explained that the organization will not lobby state or local governments but instead is “focused on broad education for all Texans regarding the benefits of 5G connectivity and the importance of this infrastructure for the future of state.”

That Crown Castle is pushing for easier small cell deployments comes as no surprise. The company for years has been working to acquire fiber providers in order to connect small cells that it can then sell to wireless carriers. Small cells have become a key element in wireless operators’ 5G deployment plans as they work to densify their networks. However, local regulations prohibiting the deployment of such gadgets have hindered the rollout of small cells. Indeed, Crown Castle’s CEO said he expects small cell deployments to take up to two years in some cases.

Nonetheless, Crown Castle has seen growth in its small cell business; in its most recent quarter the company reported $55 million in revenues from small cells, up from $40 million in the previous period.

And what of the absence of Verizon, AT&T and Sprint from the roster of the Texas 5G Alliance membership? “The Texas 5G Alliance has conducted outreach to a variety of stakeholders in a number of different spaces including network carriers, associations representing local business, technology companies and the startup community, infrastructure owners, educational institutions and community groups,” Dunaway explained.