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The FCC Is Leaving Low-Income Americans Out of the 5G Rollout

Last month, San Jose filed a lawsuit against the Federal Communication Commission's September order on “speeding broadband deployment.” More than 20 cities have done the same, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the National Association of Counties, representing tens of thousands of rural and urban communities across the country, have come out against the FCC’s order. Why? Justified as the key to speeding 5G small-cell deployment, the order provides close to a $2 billion taxpayer-funded subsidy to corporate interests, with no requirement for them to provide affordable broadband access to America’s rural and low-income communities. I wish I were surprised, bu

Bakersfield, Calif., Rushes to Put Small Cell Rules on the Books

A change in cellphone technology could impact the view from your backyard, or maybe your front yard. The city of Bakersfield, Calif., is scrambling to write an emergency ordinance that will regulate small cell facilities placed on public light poles and power lines. The advent of 5G cellphone technology has forced wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon to switch from the tall antenna towers placed sporadically throughout cities to smaller boxes the size of backpacks or luggage placed closely together on public poles. Although only a handful of these new facilities have been installed in the city, the city expects many more to arrive soon, said Deputy City Attorney Andy Heglund. “The carrier

Smart cities need trust, communication to succeed: panel

Smart cities are brimming with potential but come with caveats. A group of smart city experts spoke at a panel during the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships recent national conference held in Toronto. The group picked apart the challenges and potential of “upgrading” a city from both a technological and societal standpoint. One of the major challenges of building a smart city or community is defining it, said World Bank senior director of social, urban, rural and resilience global practice Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez. “There’s 100 definitions for a smart city, and we tried to just look at what was working well,” Ijjasz-Vasquez said. Various stakeholders exist in silos that don’t talk to

Arver says Michigan Senate bill is "bad legislation"

The Branch County Road Commission’s outgoing manager says Senate Bill 637 which recently cleared the Michigan House’s Energy Policy Committee is bad legislation. The bill has moved onto the full House but Trent Arver says in a guest editorial the bill would divert tax-payer dollars from Michigan’s roads to subsidize multi-billion-dollar telecommunications companies. Arver says the bill would restrict the fee that road agencies could charge telecom companies for locating small-cell wireless equipment on a road agency’s traffic-signal poles to $20 annually which he says would not come close to covering their costs to manage the facility. He adds the bill would also prohibit road agencies from

A Neighborhood-Driven Approach to ‘Smart City’ Technology

The approach José Serrano-McClain took to a New York City program intended to deploy emerging technologies in low-income communities, mirrored his earlier work on an effort to re-envision parts of Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Serrano-McClain, 39, explained by phone recently how it can be difficult for members of the public who don’t have expertise in areas like planning and design to gain equal footing in discussions about remaking public spaces like the park— the largest in the borough. “It’s always something like: ‘you don’t understand the implications of what you’re talking about, you don’t understand how the capital process works,’” he said. A program he helped spearhead invol

Why San Jose Kids Do Homework in Parking Lots

More than 10.7 million low-income households in the United States lack access to quality internet service. In cities like San Jose, Calif., local governments are using streetlight poles to facilitate equitable access to high-speed internet to dramatically improve educational outcomes for low-income students and expand economic opportunity for their families. Unfortunately, a recent mandate by the Federal Communications Commission might halt the progress made by these cities. Access to reliable, high-speed internet service — commonly referred to broadband — has become a necessity, not a luxury. An overwhelming majority of public-school teachers assign homework that requires online access, lea

A Smart City Is an Accessible City

A group gathers on a Nashville street corner, some rolling in wheelchairs and others walking. They have arrived holding their smartphones and make friendly chatter while a coordinator helps them log in to an app. Dispersing in small groups, they examine restaurants, cafes, and shops, looking for features signaling that disability is welcome there: a parking sign with the International Symbol of Access, a wheelchair ramp, an automatic front door, a wide bathroom stall with grab bars, braille text, low-flicker lighting, glare-free floors, scent-free soap. The groups use the app to document and rate these features. Once submitted, the information accumulates in a database that others can use to

More than a dozen cities are challenging the FCC over how to deploy 5G cell sites

More than a dozen U.S. cities are challenging federal regulators in court over a recent decision that could give telecom companies millions in financial and other breaks as they race to build a next-generation wireless network powered by 5G mobile data. On Wednesday, officials from Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; and Bellevue, Wash., among others, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review the rule change by the Federal Communications Commission, which restricts cities' ability to charge for access to public utility poles. Under the FCC’s new policy, telecom carriers seeking permits to install their network equipment on public infrastructure must have their requests reviewe

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