FCC unveils new rules for building faster internet connections

By Dionte Coleman
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS—Connecting to the internet once meant plugging into the landline at home and waiting for a screeching modem to make the connection while today access to the web comes in a wireless device that can fit in the palm of one’s hand.

As internet access becomes a necessity for everyday life in America, the need for faster, reliable and more accessible online connections grows, especially in rural areas where access to the world wide web can be limited.

That is why on Tuesday Commissioner Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission was at the Indiana Statehouse to announce proposed regulations that would make it easier to launch the latest generation of faster mobile internet connectivity—the 5G network.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr speaks in the Indiana Senate chamber about developing faster internet networks. Photo by Eddie Drews, TheStatehouseFile.com

Carr appeared with state Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis; U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana; and U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Carmel to applaud the state for enacting legislation that will make it easier for providers like AT&T and Verizon to install 5G networks across the state. Indianapolis is targeted for one of the first rollouts of 5G connectivity.

 “Now we’re on the cusp of upgrading to 5G. This next generation network can create jobs, enable 21st century education for our kids, and improve access to high quality affordable healthcare,” Carr said. “5G will offer mobile data speeds we have never seen before.”

5G capabilities will be 100 times faster than the current 4G wireless broadband. It will also require smaller antennas, instead of the larger towering antennas that 4G requires. The $275 billion required for upgrading the network will come from the providers, so there will be no new taxes put in place to put the new cells up.

“This change in speed and latency will enable autonomous vehicles, the internet of things, smart cities, and even smarter AG (agriculture),” Carr said.

Indiana is one of 20 states that passed legislation to allow small cell structures in communities throughout the states. The small cells structures can be as large as a small backpack and are less expensive to install than the massive cell towers of today, Carr said.

On Sept. 25, the FCC will vote on a proposal designed to help propel small cell deployment and it contains four provisions, Carr said:

  1. Reaffirms local control over wireless infrastructure decisions where it is most appropriate.
  2. Affirms that local governments may charge wireless providers for the costs associated with reviewing small cell deployment, provided the fees aren’t excessive.
  3. Requires local governments to make a decision about the deployment of small cell technology within a 60 to 90-day time frame.
  4. Preserves local governments’ reasonable aesthetic reviews, in order to keep local and historical architecture intact.

Carr said a study has shown that the upgrade to 5G will not only allow better broadband access, but also create $2.5 billion in additional investment and 27,000 jobs.

He said that because the people in Indiana led the charge for better service, the FCC is able to move forward with trying to make high-speed internet access available nationwide.

“When I was here (Indiana) we saw how the farming communities are using broadband to boost productivity. So, when we think about broadband deployment it’s not just about getting it in big cities. It’s about getting it everywhere,” Carr said.

“What we’re doing at the FCC is taking the ideas from those 20 bills, and making it essentially the rules and processes that will apply everywhere, so once we make the decision at the FCC that will be the policy nationwide in terms of basic guardrails and rules of the road.”

Indiana is expected to see 5G connectivity statewide by the end of this year.

Dionte Coleman is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College.

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