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FCC Commissioner Rolls Out 5G Plan, Limits Local Control

FCC-SH.jpg

U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) speaks to media. U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), left, and FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, right, applaud Indiana's leadership on 5G technology. (Samantha Horton/IPB News)

Indiana is leading efforts to implement 5G technology – internet access that relies on smaller wireless technology. But a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission mirrors a somewhat unpopular move the Indiana General Assembly has already made.

Indiana legislators met at the statehouse Tuesday with FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr to discuss his proposal for nationwide 5G cellphone technology deployment. 

His proposal would build infrastructure for wireless internet access, but Carr’s proposal would also bar local governments from prohibiting wireless deployment and set deadlines for municipalities to approve or disapprove applications. 

Wireless 5G technology only requires small boxes, but requires more of them, especially in urban areas, because the signals degrade over a much shorter distance. Local officials want the technology, but worry about allowing telecommunication companies to deploy it however, and wherever, they see fit.

Carr insists that’s not the case. He says his proposal gives cities the ability to monitor aesthetics.

“This federal decision that we would vote on the FCC doesn’t green light any particular deployment,” Carr says. “At the end of the day you still have to go through the local review process.”

Two years ago, more than 100 Indiana cities and towns passed emergency legislation which temporarily staved off the loss of local control. A bill passed this year invalidated most of those efforts.

Carr says installing new small transmitter boxes will require providers to invest $275 billion in network infrastructure.

“That represents a massive investment in America’s infrastructure, in American jobs; without a penny of new taxes,” he says.

The technology will likely be faster in cities than in rural areas where the digital divide is already a challenge, but Carr says the FCC is working to bridge that gap.

“The finish line is not the moment we see next gen deployments in New York or San Francisco," Carr says. "Success can only be measured when all Americans, no matter where they live, have a fair shot at fast affordable broadband.”

The FCC has a $10 billion fund paid into by telecommunication companies that Carr says will be used to pay for deploying 5G in rural areas.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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