State struggles to implement 5G wireless

As the wireless industry is preparing to move to faster internet in the next few years, Washington State is facing a variety of problems.

State senator and chairman of the state Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee, Doug Ericksen, will introduce a bill to address those problems -- including safety, costs and permitting -- that would move the state from 4G to 5G, according to GeekWire.

The committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 5711 Wednesday and passed it.

5G is the fifth generation of wireless phones and technology that promises to speed downloads by up to 10 gigabits per second, which would be enough to download a full HD movie in "a matter of seconds," according to Gizmodo.com.

Nationally, 5G is expected to appear between 2018 and 2020. About 30 states are deciding whether to introduce legislation on upgrading to 5G.

A key to a 5G system would be “small cells” which are basically wireless transmitters, that would most likely be mounted on power and telephone poles.

That causes some problems. First, lots of equipment would be clustered together on a power pole, many utility lines are underground -- meaning no poles are available to mount the small cells -- and permits need to be obtained.

Victoria London, representing the Association of Washington Cities, told GeekWire that Spokane, Kirkland, Kenmore and Sammamish have already updated their local laws to deal with upgrading to a 5G system.

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