An article by Pamela Wood in the Baltimore Sun discusses fifth-generation wireless, or 5G, the latest and perhaps the greatest innovation for wireless devices. The technology will deliver data and video faster to consumers’ phones and also enable broader Internet of Things (IoT) technology usage like smart street lights, self-driving vehicles, etc. Our current cell technology utilizes tall towers located every mile or two in large metropolitan areas and further away in rural ones. The 5G technology will incorporate smaller antennas located much closer together, say every few blocks in a large city.
Cell phone operators are seeking standards that allow them to scalably roll out the new technology. Local governments, in Maryland and elsewhere, are attempting to protect their ability to regulate rights of way along streets and to charge fees and taxes as with other utilities. To expedite the process, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered that cities and counties approve applications within 90 days and cap associated fees. According to the Sun, dozens of cities and counties have sued the FCC, but the order stands while the court cases play out. Baltimore began working with cell operators in 2010 and expects that five companies will be installing these new cell facilities in 2020.