Can the United States Post Office Deliver 5G?

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The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report outlining how the 228-year-old government agency — and its 31,000 facilities nationwide — could play a significant role in the rollout of 5G. According to the report, there are already 62 post office facilities engaged in 5G deployment, generating $1.4 million in annual revenue from leasing space to cell tower companies. 

“By participating in this important [5G] endeavor, the Postal Service would take fullest advantage of its vast infrastructure and further cement its already critically important role in American life,” the OIG wrote.

The 24-page report details proposals for 5G, including: 

  • Putting 5G cell towers on top of post offices nationwide
  • Running fiber backhaul through post offices and into 5G cell towers
  • Offering free public WiFi services in post offices in rural areas (2,364 USPS facilities are located within unserved or underserved census blocks)
  • Hosting edge computing data centers inside post offices
  • Supporting public safety communications via post offices
  • Having postal workers collect data on broadband availability

“As policymakers turn their attention to funding and promoting the deployment of 5G and broadband infrastructure, they can consider ways to cost-effectively leverage the Postal Service’s nationwide network,” wrote the OIG. “By playing a broader role in 5G and broadband deployment, the Postal Service would further its foundational mission to bind the nation together.”

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