Georgia leads the United States on multiple fronts. It is the number one producer of peaches, peanuts and pecans domestically, and is home to the Georgia Bulldogs.
Yet, Georgia has the opportunity to lead in another area that is transforming the way we live our lives in today’s world: mobile technology.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a new plan aimed at promoting the buildout of next-generation wireless networks from Georgia to the coasts of California as part of a push to win the global race to 5G.
The potential of 5G – the next-generation of wireless broadband – will unlock a world that thought unimaginable just a few years ago. Such technologies as driverless cars, connected devices for health applications, and smart city applications present great benefits. Not to mention, 5G is expected to bring faster wireless speeds and lower latency for a near instantaneous experience.
Putting aside the technological advancements, 5G will also be a boom to Georgia’s economy. A recent report projects investment in 5G – including laying the foundation with modern wireless infrastructure – will increase Georgia’s gross domestic product by nearly $18 billion over a 7-year period, as well as create over 16,000 jobs annually.
In addition, investments of nearly $9 billion are expected from the private sector, leading to modernization across Georgia that will make it the envy of the U.S.
So how will Georgia grab hold of this opportunity and ensure residents start seeing the historic benefits of 5G quickly? The answer is commonsense regulations that lay out the welcome mat for the needed infrastructure for 5G. You see, 5G will require upgrades for a new infrastructure model dependent on hundreds of thousands of “small cells.” Much smaller than traditional cell towers, these small cells will be installed on local city infrastructure such as traffic lights and poles to ensure data are relayed seamlessly and efficiently.
Let’s say a water pipe bursts under a busy roadway in Atlanta. With a dense small cell network and smart city capabilities powered by 5G, city officials would be alerted immediately, providing the opportunity to jump into action and resolve quickly vs. finding out later when more damage is done.
Georgia’s opportunity to become a technology leader rests on embracing 5G, and that is why state lawmakers should approve legislation that streamlines infrastructure which permits and expedites buildout. Senate Bill 426, which is pending Committee approval, would encourage these necessary steps and bring Georgia in line with other states that have updated their own laws to more efficiently deploy new wireless technologies.
Today’s world is morphing at lightning pace as new technologies and projects come online. Most of them will require the next level speeds and latency of 5G wireless to ensure success and economic impact. Georgians deserve the best technology out there, and they deserve a shot at being in the driver seat of this new wave of innovation. The onus is on state lawmakers to ensure they get it.
Dr. Joseph P. Fuhr, Jr. is a Senior Fellow for The American Consumer Institute and professor emeritus of economics at Widener University. For more information about the Institute, visit www.TheAmericanConsumer.org.