Tech Industry Leaders Urge Passage of Senate 5G Bill

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A group of 24 technology organizations banded together to urge the Senate to pass S. 3157, the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act. In a letter released today, the group said the legislation “will modernize wireless infrastructure regulations for next-generation 5G wireless networks” and will unlock “significant consumer and economic benefits.”

The group cited regulation overhaul as a key benefit of the new legislation.

“We applaud the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act for updating decades-old rules to reflect this new technology by setting reasonable timeframes for localities to act on siting applications, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming litigation if an application has not been processed in that time frame, and clarifying that siting fees for access to public property are reasonable and based on actual costs,” the letter said.

Signatories of the letter include the Internet Association and the Information Tech Industry Council, whose members include Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and Adobe.

In the letter, addressed to the legislation’s cosponsors Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, the group explained that 5G is key to IT modernization and innovation. “5G networks will be up to 100 times faster than 4G, five times more responsive, and able to support 100 times more devices,” the letter said. “These capabilities make 5G key to enabling the potential of the Internet of Things and supporting consumer demand for all things wireless.”

If 5G is deployed nationwide, it will “enable a myriad of new and advanced telehealth capabilities and applications,” according to the letter.

In the letter, the group referenced three reasons to support the legislation–winning the “global race” to 5G, “preserving local authority,” and spurring innovation and economic growth.

The group also stressed that the United States is competing with China, South Korea, and other countries in the “global race” for 5G leadership, saying that other countries are focusing on infrastructure and policies to “ensure they lead the world in this technology.”

“Being first to 5G will also have major economic benefits, from keeping the next generation of developers focused on innovation for and in the U.S., to creating new 5G jobs, to adding billions of dollars in investment to the U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product),” the writers said.

The letter said the legislation strikes the right balance between helpful Federal rules and preserving a local authority’s ability to regulate.

“The STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act appropriately balances the need to modernize the rules with the rights of state and local governments,” the letter said. “The bill creates reasonable timeframes for acting on siting requests, but retains local authority to regulate structural engineering standards, safety requirements, and aesthetic or concealment requirements. The bill also provides small municipalities additional time to process applications, recognizing that smaller entities may need more flexibility.”

The letter reiterated the economic and innovation benefits that 5G can bring to the United States.

“With new rules for new 5G networks, the wireless industry will invest $275 billion to build out 5G networks, generating $500 billion in economic growth and three million new American jobs,” the letter claimed. “Not only will 5G networks transform our economy, but 5G networks will prompt significant innovation and advancements for every sector including consumer tech, transportation, energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare.”

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