5G Barriers and a Competitive Edge

by Russ Steele

A recent report by the American Consumers Institute finds that consumers will benefit in hundreds of billions of dollars that will flow from the installation of 5G broadband wireless services. The barrier to realizing these economic benefits is about $250 Billion in corporate investment and a plethora of red tape from 50 states, 3,142 counties and county-equivalents, and 20,000 incorporated places.  Studies have found these red tape delays can double the cost of a project. The 5G companies could be facing a $500 Billion dollar bill if the red tape is not under control.

Nobody has full 5G service yet, and already some communities are putting up barriers in the form of political opposition base on health issues plus high access fees for companies who want to install 5G equipment along existing rights of way. Counties and Cities often require a construction permit for each cell tower installation. When small cell towers are required on every block, the installation cost will soar. When one cell tower could cover 100 blocks permitting costs were reasonable. When a permit is required for each mini cell per block, the installation costs will be excessive. 

Politicians have stepped up to solve the problem with some ill-advised legislation, California SB-649, removing local control over installations, which the Governor vetoed is one example.  At the Federal level, the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC) is helping to streamline the permitting process and facilitate infrastructure development on Federal Installations and Property.

• Requiring that permitting steps to occur simultaneously rather than sequentially at agencies;

• New penalties for federal agencies that miss deadlines;

• Creation of a FAST-41 online permitting dashboard for managers to track projects;

• And a one-stop shop FPISC approach.

As reported in earlier blog posts Senator John Thune’s MOBILE NOW Act has passed the  Senate with a provision for “permissionless innovation” which could be construed to allow the installation of 5G mini towers and equipment on existing buildings without local control. Jitinder Kohli of Deloitte Consulting noted that governments need a “Quick Start Guides” similar to one that comes when we buy a new electronic device like a TV or smartphone to help them in adopting new technology like 5G.

While every agency is thrashing about it may be in the best interest of communities with limited broadband services to make their communities 5G ready, by working out cost-effective solutions, policies and ordinances now rather than later. The cities that welcome 5G installation will be some of the first to have the capacity to support the Internet of Thinks, self-driving vehicles, and argument reality devices.  Plus there is an economic advantage of having a whole community with universal high-speed broadband. Adopting this advanced technology early will be a competitive advantage in the initial installation cycles. A city participation in the 4th Industrial Revolution will have an advantage over other cities in the region who are still erecting barriers to 5G.  Those barriers could delay 5G in some communities for 10 or more years. Be G5 Ready and beat the competition.

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