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Blog

January 13, 2017

How Smart Wireless Policies Will Unlock Smart Cities and Grow Our Country’s Economy .

Jamie Hastings
Senior Vice President, External & State Affairs

$500 billion.  That’s a lot of money.

In fact, it’s the amount that Americans will contribute to their 401k accounts each year—by the end of this decade. All 401k contributions in the U.S.

$500 billion is also how much 5G, the next-generation of wireless, will contribute to the U.S. economy.

That’s according to an Accenture report released yesterday, detailing how 5G will grow the U.S. economy, create American jobs, and enable communities across the country to offer smart city solutions that generate significant energy and transportation benefits.

To be clear, we’re talking about a $500 billion shot in the arm of our economy—plus up to 3 million new jobs, from construction and equipment manufacturing to long-term employment gains from increased productivity and new services.

What generates this remarkable economic growth? America’s wireless industry. Specifically, the projected $275 billion that wireless carriers are expected to invest to build out 5G over the next decade.

And as the Accenture report illustrates, communities around the U.S., from big cities to small towns, will realize the benefits. That $275 billion will be invested in these neighborhoods, creating jobs and boosting their local economy.

That’s not all our cities and towns will see from the next-generation of wireless. Accenture finds that 5G-powered smart city solutions could produce $160 billion in benefits and savings through lowered energy use, reduced traffic congestion and fuel costs, and improved public safety applications.

There’s a catch, though. The economic growth, job creation, and smart city solutions stem from building out 5G wireless networks. Those networks will run in part on small cells— wireless antennas the size of a pizza box—hundreds of thousands of small cells, located everywhere from utility poles to street lamps.

But many communities still have in place regulations designed when wireless infrastructure meant only 250-foot tall cell towers.  The sheer quantity—as well as the drastically reduced footprint—of small cells means that the local rules, rates, and processes for approving these wireless antennas must evolve.

For communities that maintain the status quo, 5G investment—and the broader benefits—will flow to neighboring towns and cities that do take action to streamline their regulations. As the Accenture paper notes, “By facilitating 5G infrastructure deployment, [municipal leaders] can make their communities more efficient and attractive to investments by telecom operators as well as other industries.”

Communities that take those steps have the public—and local businesses—on their side. A recent survey found that 7 in 10 Americans and over 80% of small business leaders support more small cell deployments.

Why? The reason is simple: Americans understand that wireless innovation is important to growing the U.S. economy.  The wireless industry is ready to invest billions to create jobs and make that happen.

But communities need smart wireless policies to realize 5G-powered smart city solutions and economic growth. Let’s work together to unlock the next-generation of wireless.

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