I could not be more excited about the future of wireless in the United States. Almost weekly there is a new story that extols the virtues of 5G. Self driving cars, machine-to-machine communications, gigabyte data speeds with 1-3 ms latency. The application possibilities for this transformation are endless.
What Senator John Thune’s Commerce Committee is doing, along with a forward-thinking FCC under the direction of Chairman Ajit Pai, to win the race to 5G is extremely commendable. The economic ramifications are huge. The U.S. must win the race over our friends in Asia and Europe. If not, we cede the technology, the manufacturing, the software, the devices, and the jobs. The economic implications far exceed wireless alone; they span the entire U.S. economy.
I regularly read stories of jurisdictions and individuals putting up roadblocks to wireless infrastructure. I wasn’t alive during the electric grid build out of the twentieth century but my parents and grandparents were. Living in the rural areas from which I hale, they were so excited to be able to power their homes, farms, and businesses. They told me pushback on placement of power infrastructure was nonexistent in those days. Power companies couldn’t build it fast enough. They had lights, refrigerators, and washing machines purchased and installed with the whole house wired sometimes years ahead of the rural power company running lines to their homes.
Wireless broadband has become nearly as vital to human life as electricity. Carrying a cell phone in your pocket is no longer a luxury for the rich but a vital communications tool for everybody. Knowing this I’m often puzzled by the pushback by individuals and jurisdictions to new macro and micro cells. Of course I’m biased as a tower builder, but to me they are beautiful structures in that they are a sign of the advancement of society the same as the power poles of the early and mid-twentieth century. By opposing wireless infrastructure or over regulating it we stymie vital services the public, first responders, and farms and businesses need to survive.
Today, nobody thinks twice about the new power poles going in to power our homes, farms, and businesses. Their existence is a given. We’re not quite there yet with towers and other wireless infrastructure but we need to be. We should be thinking exactly the same today about wireless infrastructure as we did about the power infrastructure of the past.
I applaud the White House, Senator Thune and Congress, along with the FCC, for taking bold steps forward to clear the path for filling white spaces in rural areas and network densification in urban areas. The race to 5G is on and with everybody’s help America can win!
Craig Snyder has worked in the tower industry since 1984. He is president and founder of Sioux Falls Tower & Communications of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is also a past chairman of both the National Association of Tower Erectors as well as Telecommunications Industry Association tower standard writing committee TIA 222.
By: Craig Snyder, President, Sioux Falls Tower & Communications
November 1, 2018