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Does the world really need 5G?

The much-ballyhooed 5G wireless technology is so revolutionary, it could transform the U.S. mobile phone industry even before it arrives. But who needs it? The next-generation tech appears to be one of the major rationales behind the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, the third- and fourth-most-popular mobile phone networks in the United States. Deploying 5G, which calls for a comparatively dense build-out of antennas in urban areas, will be costly and time-consuming, and it’s not entirely clear why the United States needs four copies of this infrastructure. But telecom analyst Dave Burstein has raised a bigger question: What if 5G isn’t such a big leap after all? With equipment ve

Delaware Is Dead Set on Putting Your State’s Broadband to Shame

Delaware is a national leader in broadband adoption and speed. However, the state is not resting on its laurels, and the chief information officer has a plan to bring broadband connectivity to rural areas using high-speed wireless technologies. “My hope is in the next 24 months, we’re going to eradicate this rural broadband issue,” James Collins, state chief information officer, told Route Fifty in an interview at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers midyear meeting in Baltimore. The state has made substantial investments in broadband. According to Collins, they have invested “somewhere between one and four million” in economic development and grant funds. That invest

Salt Lake City and New York to Lead New Wireless Tech Research

As part of a new initiative led by the National Science Foundation, several cities will serve as testbeds for next-generation communication technologies. The NSF’s Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) initiative has named Salt Lake City and New York City as the first of four testbed cities. The idea behind the testbeds — a project expected to run for the next five to 10 years — is to foster the kinds of research and testing to support smart cities, autonomous cars, virtual reality and more. “One of the things that the U.S. has greatly benefited from in the last 20 years has been our leadership in wireless,” said Thyaga Nandagopal, deputy division director at the National Science F

New Data on Pole Prices Power 5G Debate

As part of the working group efforts within the FCC's Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), one subcommittee has collected data on telecom pole attachment rates and published the information along with some very early data analysis. The results suggest there is a wide range in the rental fees being charged for wireless equipment attachments, and that fees are significantly higher in unreguated markets compared to regulated ones. This has huge implications for next-generation telecom network deployments, and particularly for the rollout of 5G wireless services. Source: BDAC Rates & Fees Ad Hoc Committee preliminary report Across all of the data collected, the mean rental fee assesse

Idaho Counties Consider Banding Together to Buy New Fiber Optic Network

The Lewis County Commissioners are considering buying into a five-county cooperative to construct a fiber-optic network that would upgrade emergency and public safety services. Dave Taylor, emergency communications officer for Nez Perce County and Lewiston, met with the commissioners during their regular weekly meeting Monday to discuss the plan. Taylor is asking commissioners in Lewis, Idaho, Nez Perce, Clearwater and Latah counties to pitch in $4,200 each to hire a consultant to determine where fiber-optic cable already exists in the region. Following that, fiber-optic cables would be installed in places where there currently are none. Taylor said he hopes the system would be completed wit

AT&T to deploy small cells in San Jose; signs new macro tower deal

AT&T and the city of San Jose have reached a tentative agreement to install a network of 170 small cells on lampposts by the end of the year in a move to improve wireless coverage across the Californian city. City officials highlighted that the deployment of these small cells will offer enhanced voice and data capacity for residents and businesses in San Jose. The small cells deployment will also strengthen the city’s First Responder Network Authority coverage for emergency communications and will pave the way for the future deployment of 5G mobile broadband technology. The city expects to receive a total of $5 million in lease revenue over the next 15 years from AT&T for its digital inclusi

American Cities Are Fighting Big Business Over Wireless Internet, and They’re Losing

Big business is quietly trouncing cities in the fight over the future of the internet. The results of an obscure, bureaucratic battle inside the U.S. communications regulator could decide not only which Americans get ultra-fast internet but how much it’ll cost and even what city streetlights will look like. On Wednesday, a committee created by the Federal Communications Commission will meet to frame the future of 5G, a technology that will make downloads dramatically faster on phones and perhaps replace home broadband for some. The group, with representatives of the business world outnumbering government officials four-to-one, may push for a vote on guidelines that have been under debate for

Preemption Battles Continue as Cities Look to Improve Internet Connectivity

The day before the Georgia State Legislature wrapped up its session on March 30, the House passed a controversial bill to assert the state’s power over its local governments in the fraught debate about who should set the terms for deployment of broadband technology. The vote was 143-10. But even though the Senate in February had passed a similar measure by 52-1, the versions could not be reconciled in time to get the bill to the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal. That represented a victory for the Georgia Municipal Association and its executive director, Larry Hanson, who had fought tooth and nail against the legislation. The bill, and others like it in many other states, brought strong denunciations

Compromise reached in wireless dispute as bill heads to OH Governor

A year after dozens of cities and villages sued the state and won, stakeholders say they’ve reached a compromise on how to regulate wireless equipment in Ohio communities. Municipal leaders and telecommunications-industry representatives worked together to craft a bill that is headed to Gov. John Kasich for his signature. House Bill 478 would give municipalities the ability to regulate the placement and appearance of radio equipment called small-cell technology — such as antennae, boxes and wires — that companies fasten to traffic lights, utility poles, street signs and other public structures to provide connectivity for cellphones and other wireless devices. The law also regulates construct

Controversial cell tower in Animas Valley, CO now up

Photo by Jerry McBride/Durango Herald After nearly eight years of protest from residents in the Animas Valley, a 104-foot cellphone tower to improve AT&T’s coverage in the area went up last week without much fanfare. Dan Behuniak, CEO of Skyway Towers, the company in charge of building the cell tower, said construction was started in February and completed last week. AT&T still has to install its equipment before the tower is fully functional. Behuniak was unsure of AT&T’s timeline and attempts to reach the company were unsuccessful. The cell tower, disguised as a tree, is up at 619 Trimble Lane, within the existing Sandco gravel pit property, after seven years of the company’s efforts. The

Pittsburgh Airport Partnership Will Create Testing Ground for New Technology

The Allegheny County Airport Authority and Carnegie Mellon University reached an agreement Thursday allowing the school to deploy new technologies that will help modernize Pittsburgh International Airport. ACAA CEO Christina Cassotis was brought in a little more than three years ago “to see if more could be done for a hub that was no longer a hub” after now-defunct U.S. Airways downsized, leaving some concourses vacant. A $1.1 billion Terminal Modernization Program—which will relocate the Landside Terminal and related ground-side functions to a new facility adjacent to the Airside Terminal—breaks ground next year with the goal of being fully operational by 2023. And ACAA is in the process of

IL Lawmaker wants to amend 5G law to give municipalities more control

Municipalities across the state may have a small window to pass ordinances regulating installation of small cell, or 5G, phone technology as a state representative works to advance a measure to amend a law signed by the governor last week. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 1451. With the exception of Chicago, the measure mandates uniform standards for deals telecommunications companies can make with local governments. Some cities – including Springfield, Rockford and others – opposed the measure. They say it ties the hands of local officials in making deals for their jurisdictions. State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, said his bill would be a minor amendment to the law. “It says, among

Editorial: Email hoax attempting to manipulate NE state senators crossed a line

Special interests, take note: Learn from a recent situation at the Nebraska Legislature that shows how an underhanded lobbying tactic can backfire. State senators were debating a legislative proposal to facilitate so-called small-cell technology — mounted antennas enabling faster, fifth-generation wireless technology known as 5G. The measure, Legislative Bill 389, was introduced by State Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, chairman of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. Some lawmakers began receiving dozens of emails supporting the industry-backed proposal, but the emails turned out to be bogus — they were messages falsely sent under constituents’ names. When lawmakers replied t

Columbus, Ohio, Picks Smart City Data Project Vendor

Columbus City Council has approved a $2.5 million contract with Pillar Technology Group to develop an operating system for the Smart Columbus project that will analyze and share data on innovative transportation projects. The Columbus-based information technology company will develop a computer operating system that will support the long-term Smart Cities strategy, said Brandi Braun, Columbus' deputy innovation officer. It will be the citywide data management platform for information collected during the Smart Cities Challenge's transportation projects. "It is the cornerstone of our Smart Cities portfolio of projects," Braun said. "We want universities and nonprofits to share data with the c

Clyburn Exiting FCC

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn says she is exiting the FCC. She announced at the public hearing Tuesday (April 17) that it would be her last public meeting. She said she had done her best, met incredible people, and had had a chance to make a difference for people who did not know the goverment was there to serve them. Clyburn served as interim chair of the agency and was the first woman to chair the agency. Fellow Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel called her a partner in the public interest, and promised to carry on her fights for the public interest. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said she had "chaired with distinction and served with honor." Clyburn said she did not have her future path "laid out." Ac

Broadband adviser picked by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai arrested on fraud charges

A broadband adviser selected by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to run a federal advisory committee was arrested last week on claims she tricked investors into pouring money into a multimillion-dollar investment fraud scheme, according to The Wall Street Journal. The adviser, Elizabeth Pierce, is the former chief executive of Quintillion, an Alaska-based fiber optic cable provider operating out of Anchorage. In her capacity as CEO, Pierce allegedly raised more than $250 million from two New York-based investment companies using forged contracts with other companies guaranteeing hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue. Pierce resigned from Quintillion in August o

Wireless company 5G attachments headed to Springfield utility poles

With Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signing of a bill last week, Springfield will have two months to adopt forms and fees for telecommunication companies that want to attach cells to its utility poles, according to City Water, Light and Power spokeswoman Amber Sabin. The new law prohibits local governments from regulating or charging wireless companies for attaching their devices to streetlights and utility poles. The “small cells,” which can be up to six cubic feet in size, help boost user connectivity to the 5G wireless network. Rauner said the plan will create jobs and provide residents with faster internet service, according to The Associated Press. Before the legislature passed the bill, the city

What Is 5G, and Why Will It Take So Long to Arrive?

5G mobile connectivity promises to bring faster speeds, enabling higher-bandwidth technology like virtual reality. But don't expect to see it soon. If one can cut through all the noise surrounding 5G, one will find that despite the fanfare about 5G trials rolling out this year and the industry attacks on cities’ ability to control a messy 5G infrastructure, the technology is nowhere near real implementation. “5G deployment is not imminent at all,” said Doug Dawson, owner of CCG Consulting. “Giant companies like Verizon and AT&T are trying to stir up their stockholders” by announcing the deployment, he said. But most cities will not see the deployment of the technology in 2019. “Nobody is goi

IL Small Cell Wireless Legislation That Oswego, Kendall County Opposed Signed Into Law

A bill that was publicly opposed by several local officials in Kendall County, Oswego, Aurora and elsewhere has been signed into law. On Thursday, Governor Bruce Rauner approved SB1451, which is known as the "Small Cell Wireless Bill." In a press conference and statement, Rauner praised the initiative saying that, "small cells are lower-profile wireless signal alternatives to traditional cell towers that can be attached to existing structures." He added that "their deployment will help lay the foundation required to support the technologies of the future, such as the next generation wireless systems known as 5G." The Governor estimated the creation of 100,000 jobs statewide with $9 billion i

West Hollywood Markets Its Small Size for Smart City Projects

Tiny West Hollywood could become a leader in smart city technologies. The two-square-mile city in Los Angeles County, nestled at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains and home to more than 34,000 residents is, perhaps by design, the perfect size for trying out smart city ideas. “We’re kind of like an ideal test bed for a lot of these smart city technologies, because of our size, because of our density,” said Francisco Contreras, innovation manager for West Hollywood. “Because we have the mobility challenges that the entire L.A. region has, you could really test out some of these smart city technologies in West Hollywood, and then be able to scale it maybe across L.A. County or the L.A. regi

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