ARLINGTON, Virginia–The Wireless Infrastructure Association is taking the occasion of its first annual Wireless Hall of Fame event to honor some of the pivotal figures of the tower industry, while also focusing on the future needs of the tower workforce in a 5G world.

This is WIA’s first Wireless Hall of Fame dinner, which will be held next week in Washington, D.C. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will give the opening remarks.

“The Hall of Fame looks back to the early days of the industry and the recent rapid growth of the industry. We had a fairly new industry — most of them that started maybe 20-30 years ago as an independent industry, like this one, haven’t grown to hit huge size,” said Jonathan Adelstein, president and CEO of WIA, in an interview with RCR Wireless News. “We’re looking back at the early beginnings of it and we’re seeing what’s happening today, and how those pioneers that began this industry really laid the foundation for what is, today, a towering business — if you’ll forgive the pun — a business that has grown enormously to become one of the most important industries in America, because it supports every other industry through the wireless broadband that it provides. We’re celebrating our past, and we’re looking forward to the future as well, in terms of how we’re going to make sure we have the workforce to continue to build and grow on what they’ve done.”

Proceeds from the event will be used to fund WIA’s training and education efforts for the wireless industry workforce, including its Telecommunications Education Center and Telecom Industry Registered Apprentice Program, which Adelstein says has 23 employers engaged and about 1,700 apprenticeships.

“These are great opportunities for the industry to take advantage of, to help make sure that we take the time to grow our workforce, so we don’t have a labor shortage, so that we don’t have cost and quality issues, so that we don’t have safety concerns,” Adelstein said. “We can address some of the safety issues in our industry, by making sure people are properly trained and they do the job right the first time. It’ll keep costs under control, and it will make sure that we have the wireless infrastructure that we need to support the massive growth in data demand that we’re seeing today.”

Inductees in WIA’s first Wireless Hall of Fame class include:

-Steven E. Bernstein, founder and former CEO of SBA Communications

-Steven B. Dodge, founder and former CEO of American Tower

John P. Kelly, former CEO of Crown Castle

-José R. Mas, CEO of MasTec

-Neville R. Ray, EVP and CTO of T-Mobile US

Watch the interview with Adelstein below.

Image: 123RF stock photo

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