The St Cloud Times recently ran an editorial from Barry Umansky, Ball State University Digital Policy Institute…
The question on the table is how to expedite the process of deploying the infrastructure needed to power 5G, the most advanced wireless broadband network technology to come to market in the history of mobile networking. Engineers are reporting that 5G will deliver data and video at speeds once unimaginable, making the technology a realistic and affordable economic development tool for localities as much as it will be for businesses and citizens. But how fast citizens of any state can realize the benefits of 5G will depend on which state can most quickly and effectively clear the regulatory underbrush slowing down deployment of the network equipment needed to make 5G a reality. Minnesota’s small cell legislation (House File 739 and Senate File 561) is intended to do just that. This legislation should be applauded and supported.
In many localities, installing a communications antenna smaller than a pizza box typically requires approval from local zoning authorities, town councils and other public agencies — and under rules that tend to differ from city to city and town to town. And because permission for small cells is usually negotiated separately with each service provider, there’s a chance that one service provider gets a green light while another runs into roadblocks — meaning that the latter’s customers simply lose out.
Umansky recently presented at the Minnesota Broadband Networks Conference hosted by Minnesota Cable Communications Association, MN Telecom Alliance, AT&T, Comcast and others. (The counter of his view comes from the League of Minnesota Cities and Cable industry.)
I posted notes on the conversation in a Senate Committee meeting. Clearly the wireless provider and League of Minnesota Cities were trying to come to a compromise that would work for all sides. That is where the committee meeting left it more or less.
A tricky part of this is that 5G is a great solution for urban areas, downtown areas but not for rural areas – in part because it requires so much equipment and in part because of the distance limitations for the signal. And the local governments are reticent to relinquish control over the public right of way. Another tricky factor is that this topic is also being discussed at a national level.