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Knoxville partnering with CNX to prepare for 5G network

Dive Brief:

  • The City of Knoxville, TN announced it will partner with telecommunications company CNX to prepare the deployment of 5G technology. CNX will consult with the city on existing laws governing small cell installations on city right-of-way, inventorying city-owned assets and creating a program to manage requests to attach technology to city owned infrastructure.

  • The company is already working with city staff on policy that would streamline requests for technology like cell towers, micro-cells and antenna on public assets like light poles and government buildings. CNX agreed to deliver a full plan to the city by the end of March.

  • "The City of Knoxville will benefit from CNX's expertise," Jim Hagerman, the city's director of engineering, said in a statement. "As telecommunication companies move forward with small cell installations, our emphasis is on Knoxville being a smart city. That means moving toward everyone having access to this new infrastructure, but installing it in ways that protect the interests of the city and the aesthetics of our neighborhoods."

Dive Insight:

Knoxville is a city that must balance its desire for smart technology like 5G with a need to preserve its history. First settled in 1786, Knoxville has been at the center of much of Tennessee’s history, and needs to work to maintain that historical presence while looking to the future.

That means assessing what it has available to use, how to not interfere with history and looking at the laws in place to see what can be updated. The combination of all these things will mean Knoxville can prepare for the future while staying rooted in its past. "By taking steps to inventory their publicly owned assets and modernize their ordinances, the city will be well positioned to deploy 5G services more quickly,” CNX regional director Hunter Stuart said in a statement.

This planning phase also represents a cautious first step by a city, rather than simply working to roll out 5G as quickly as possible without fully assessing any associated risks. Companies like AT&T and Verizon are already testing the technology to see how easily it can be rolled out nationwide, while Knoxville’s planning shows a city looking at its effect on a local level.

Collaboration will be key, and The Washington Post notes that government can clear the way by avoiding internal squabbles, installing the infrastructure in a way that does not inconvenience businesses or residents and look at ways 5G can be used to spark economic growth.

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