Industry News

NATE goes to Washington, D.C.


The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) capped off its April with a whirlwind lobbying tour of the nation’s capital that saw 43 meetings in less than five days.

The team, which included NATE board directors John Paul Jones and Jimmy Miller, chairman Jim Tracey, secretary/treasurer Kevin Dougherty, executive director Todd Schlekeway, and director of legislative and regulatory affairs Jim Goldwater, lobbied for a variety of legislative and government initiatives, per Inside Towers reporting.

Among the issues on NATE’s docket was the Communication Jobs Training Act of 2018, which was introduced in the House at the end of April. The bill would provide up to $20 million annually for fiscal years 2018-20 for educational institutions to provide job training in the field. Many are expecting a shortage of trained, skilled labor as telecommunications operators ramp up infrastructure building to meet demand for 5G.

Don’t expect the 5G rollout to begin until 2019 or 2020 at earliest, according to NATE.

The bill’s prospects are currently unclear due to a glut of bills – over 30, according to NATE – before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

In discussions with the FCC, NATE was able to raise the topic of “twilight towers,” installations which, due to a bureaucratic loophole, were not subject to historical regulations and thus are in regulatory limbo and difficult to upgrade. Resolving this irksome issue is supported by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Brendan Carr.

The sextet also stopped at the FAA to discuss drone usage, with an eye toward reducing risky in-person tower inspections. NATE has been in the process of crafting new regulations with the FAA. According to Miller, “The FAA has reviewed it [proposed regulations] and likes it. It’s the first of its kind for UAS [Unmanned Aerial Systems] for any trade organization.”

The trade organization, however, is not concerned that drones will replace tower climbers; rather, they will simply be a new skillset for climbers, replacing brute force and physical labor.

Finally, NATE was able to meet with several civil rights groups, such as the League of United Latin American Citizens and the NAACP, to discuss boosting minority employment. For example, NATE this month will start rolling out a Spanish translation of current tower standards.



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