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On 5G San Jose doesn’t get it

By Demri Scott | November 13, 2018

A number of cities are getting ready for 5G by setting up policies that will allow companies to invest in next generation technologies. Unfortunately, some cities like San Jose still do not get it that exorbitant fees would effectively prevent 5G deployment. 

Earlier this year, the FCC approved several items that will speed up the deployment of next generation technologies by setting guidance on reasonable cost recoupment fees, and a timeline for the approval process, all of which were guided by and are in line with preexisting legislation at the state level. While previous generations relied on large cell towers, 5G will require a dense concentration of small cells to cover a particular area.

Since 5G deployment relies on small cells, which are so different from previous generations, the regulatory process for deployment needed to be updated so providers were not effectively prohibited from deployment. 

Last week, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo claimed that new FCC rules to encourage faster deployment of 5G and small cells would “usurp control over these coveted public assets and utilize publicly owned streetlight poles for their own profit, not the public benefit.”

The claims could not be more wrong, especially in the context of San Jose’s war on tech companies.

The city charges $1.85 million on top of the $1,500+ per small cell for deployment. Exorbitantly high fees, like those used in San Jose are part of the problem that leads to high prices and less coverage for affected consumers. Claims that the FCC’s new rule would “usurp control” are outlandish, especially when cities like San Jose are using too much of their own power to effectively prohibit deployment by charging extremely high fees for new technology.

The city also approved zero small cells in 2015, 2016 and 2017, showing that effectively taxing small cell deployment holds San Jose back from innovative new technologies.

The 5G order is pushing the US towards the right direction. One study estimates that it will save $2 billion in unnecessary regulatory costs, stimulate $2.4 billion in new investment and cover 1.8 million more homes with 97% being in rural and suburban communities, helping to close the digital divide.

The United States can’t afford to lose the race to 5G. 5G will create 3 million jobs and $500 billion in new economic growth. It’s crucial for the government to step out of the way so the United States is first to see 5G deployment.

In attempting to circumvent the FCC’s rule change, the city is ultimately harming their own citizens and blocking innovation driven polices that will lead to lifechanging technology.

Photo Credit: Håkan Dahlström