3 ways state and local governments can ensure the future of 5G mobile networks in the US

This article originally appeared on Tech Republic By Conner Forrest 

 

The future of many technologies hinges on the deployment of 5G networks, but there are still a few potential roadblocks to their development Richard Adler, a distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future, said in a press call on Tuesday.

The call came a few days before the White House Frontiers Conference kicks off in Pittsburgh. The conference will focus on advances in science and technology, and Adler hosted a call to discuss the importance of 5G networks in supporting innovation and the role they will play in some of the technologies that the conference will focus on.

Mobile data traffic has experienced a 4,000x increase in the past 10 years, Adler said, and the next-generation 5G networks will help increase communication times, and improve speed and bandwidth as traffic continues to grow. The standard for 5G won’t be completed until 2020, Adler said, but actions have been taken around the US to lay the foundation for the network.

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One of the biggest differences with 5G is that it uses what is known as millimeter wave band, which has a shorter range, but is key to increasing capacity. Because of that, though, providers will need to build out a denser network with more access points that Adler called “small cells” to make sure devices are alway within range.

In July, the FCC voted to open up spectrum for 5G connectivity—a move that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler called “damn important.” But, Adler said more involvement is needed from state and local governments to guarantee three things: access, timeliness, and cost-efficiency.

In terms of access, Adler said, state and local governments will need to make permitted use available as an option for these small cell access points. They also need to consider public right of way for 5G wiring, and access will need to be made available on some utility poles for small cells, Adler said.

To speed things up, Adler said that these governing bodies must allow a single permit application to cover multiple access points, and they should work on streamlining the processes for approving permits and plans regarding 5G development.

Of course, building out this infrastructure will be expensive. In an effort to improve cost efficiency, Adler said that governments should ensure that the fees for access and pole attachments are “reasonable and non-discriminatory.” He also argued that a “dig once” rule be enacted to ensure that whenever roads are dug up, that conduit is put in place for 5G.

Future technologies such as self-driving cars, ultra HD video streaming, the Internet of Things, and smart homes will benefit from next-generation 5G connectivity. Guaranteeing the future of 5G is primarily a federal responsibility, but Adler said that state and local governments will continue to play a “distinctive and important role” in the technology as we move toward 2020.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Richard Adler, of the Institute for the Future, said that state and local governments must work to guarantee access, timeliness, and cost-effectiveness for 5G mobile network deployments.
  2. Technologies like self-driving vehicles, IoT devices, and mobile video streaming will benefit from 5G network technologies.
  3. The development of a denser network, including “small cells” for access, will be a high priority for 5G.

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