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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday hammered home the need for “a lot more backhaul” to support 5G networks in a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

According to Wheeler, Business Data Services (BDS) – formerly known as Special Access – will be crucial to provide the dedicated access wireless carriers will need to connect cell towers and antennas. But Wheeler said a lack of sufficient competition for BDS could threaten the buildout of 5G by pushing prices up for both carriers and consumers.

“To seize the opportunities to increase the deployment of mobile networks and to move towards 5G connectivity, we’re going to need a lot more backhaul to handle the massive increase in data traffic,” Wheeler said. “Lack of competition doesn't just hurt the deployment of wireless networks today, it also threatens to delay the buildout of 5G networks with its demand for many, many more backhaul connections to many, many more antennas. And it hurts the many businesses and institutions that rely on these services in an ever-increasing data-driven world.”

At CTIA earlier this month, Wheeler promised the FCC would take action on BDS by the end of this year, and on Thursday again said he hoped to pass reforms by the close of 2016.

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