Wireless Infrastructure to Enable a Connected World


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Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

American Tower applauds Congress and the Administration for including an unprecedented $65 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to ensure all Americans have access to broadband. We appreciate the bipartisan recognition that both wireline and wireless solutions are needed to close the digital divide throughout this great nation.

For more, CEO Tom Bartlett addresses the legislation in this video interview with the New England Council and Boston Business Journal op-ed.

Boston Business Journal

Viewpoint: Cross-sector partnerships will ensure broadband access for all

American Tower works to support connectivity, including through a partnership with Boston’s United South End Settlement House.

Without a wait, a patient sees a doctor. Students “Zoom” to school, not by bus, but virtually. Many commute to work without leaving home. What is the link? Connectivity.

Over the past year, we have experienced firsthand how important connectivity is to our everyday lives. Whether to access education, health care or other resources, the ability to get and stay connected is crucial in today’s world.

However, it is estimated that at least 14.5 million Americans continue to lack access to adequate high-speed broadband. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that a lack of reasonable connectivity can have real, detrimental effects on education, employment opportunities and healthcare. As communities continue to navigate the pandemic, there is an upsurge and a renewed sense of urgency to secure broadband access for all.

Founded and headquartered in Boston, American Tower is a leading owner, operator and developer of multi-tenant communications real estate, which primarily comprises cell towers. We lease space on our towers that enables our tenants — such as wireless carriers and internet service providers, TV and radio broadcasters, government agencies and first responders — to operate networks that best serve the communications needs of their customers. Great strides have been made by companies around the globe that help to provide affordable and accessible mobile communications. However, we recognize that additional effort is needed to ensure communities are not left on the wrong side of the digital divide. The need to close the gap for the unconnected and underconnected has never been greater.

Our work is only a small portion of what is needed. We applaud Congress and the Biden-Harris administration for their efforts to invest in American infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The resources required to achieve connectivity for all Americans in the near-term cannot be put forth alone. Public and private partnerships across all business sectors can more quickly bring opportunities to provide new, digitally enabled services to those in need.

The federal government has established a goal of ensuring that all Americans have access to the internet, and we are pleased to see lawmakers from both parties working hard to find solutions to close the digital divide. Congress is likely to commit $65 billion to broadband infrastructure deployment and adoption as part of the infrastructure package.

Indeed, there has never been a better time to invest in American broadband than now. The rollout of 5G promises to bring new use cases for connectivity and improve the ways we live, work and play. We expect a range of new consumer-facing applications, like autonomous driving; augmented and virtual reality; faster speeds on our phones, tablets and laptops; higher quality video and lightning-fast downloads, enabling breakthroughs in communication and technology — extending beyond what’s currently possible. Importantly, all of these innovations will depend on access to reliable wireless connectivity. American Tower is committed to expanding connectivity in a sustainable way, working with local communities to find solutions to manage resources intelligently, improve process efficiency, and minimize environmental impacts.

We are excited about what the future holds and the opportunities to use our infrastructure to pursue a more inclusive form of connectivity. If private industry, government and non-profits each bring our strengths and capabilities to the table, we can create scenarios where the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and where this tremendous period of digital transformation can achieve its fullest potential.

This op-ed appeared in the online edition of the Boston Business Journal on September 17, 2021.

Tom Bartlett

Tom Bartlett is president and CEO of American Tower Corp. in Boston.

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