Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today experienced climbing a communications tower during a site visit near De Beque, Colo. The tour was facilitated by representatives from the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), SBA Communications and EasTex Tower, LLC. The visit was a part of Chairman Pai’s road trip across Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado to highlight how closing the digital divide can create jobs and increase digital opportunity.
NATE was able to snag the Chairman in advance of a commitment he made to Congressman Pete Olson during an FCC House oversight hearing on July 25 that he would climb a tower in Houston as FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr had done recently in South Dakota.
He had jokingly said that he might climb a 10-foot DAS structure, but accepted the challenge today of climbing 130 feet to the top of the Colorado cell tower.
During the visit, tower technicians and management from NATE member company EasTex Tower, LLC, a Colorado-based contractor company, were on site to visit with Chairman Pai about the work they conduct on a daily basis building, maintaining and deploying communications tower sites and related wireless infrastructure. Representatives from NATE member company SBA Communications, a large industry vertical real estate company and owner of the tower site, were also on hand to talk with Chairman Pai at the event
The highlight of the day was providing Chairman Pai with the unique opportunity to be fitted with the appropriate fall protection equipment and experience a short tower climb under the watchful guidance of EasTex Tower, LLC’s safety personnel and tower technicians.
Additionally, the FCC Chairman learned about the benefits associated with the NATE STAR Initiative program from participating company EasTex Tower, LLC. Since the program’s inception, the STAR Initiative site safety audits and program documentation requirements have served to allow participants to proactively identify and correct hundreds of job site hazards and deficiencies. These results have allowed NATE to extrapolate valuable benchmarks and tangible data from the program, while demonstrating compelling evidence that STAR member companies are leading the charge in terms of making our industry safer.
“I applaud Chairman Pai’s initiative to get out in the field in order to experience first-hand the safe work practices, diverse skill sets, knowledge base and work-ethic that are required of today’s tower technicians to conduct safe and successful wireless deployments,” stated Jim Miller, President and CEO of EasTex Tower, LLC and Vice Chairman of the NATE Board of Directors.
“NATE and our member companies are grateful for Chairman Pai’s leadership at the FCC on issues such as spectrum policy, streamlining wireless infrastructure deployments, expanding rural and tribal broadband opportunities and closing the digital divide, all of which are vital in positioning the United States to be the global leader in 5G,” Miller said.
“It was an honor to have FCC Chairman Ajit Pai join us today at one of our company’s towers in Colorado,” said David Sams, Vice President of Risk Management at SBA Communications. “The Chairman’s site visit served to reinforce the prominent role communications tower owners, contractors and technicians continue to play in enabling connectivity to all sectors of our diverse economy,” added Sams, who also currently serves as the Chairman of the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP).