Less than ten years ago, wireless communications generally meant voice-only calls made on simple cellphones with sometimes spotty — and expensive — service. Today, wireless communications have evolved into a high-speed, highly connected mobile broadband world where pocket-sized devices have altered how people work and play. And prices per megabit have dropped dramatically.

Roll out the 5G

Soon, not only people, but everything, can connect to everything else. And this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Wireless carriers are already beginning to roll out next-generation 5G wireless technology.  A range of stakeholders, from building owners to city planners to federal regulators to elected officials at all levels of government, need to consider future wireless needs in project plans and policies they are developing today.

5G could prove one of the most transformational standards in the history of technology.

Nearly half of all Americans and two-thirds of all adults ages 25-34 are living in wireless-only households. So many rely solely on mobile networks for everyday communication, and delivering robust wireless broadband in all corners of the country is more important than ever. Wireless broadband access increases economic growth and creates jobs. It improves our daily lives in so many ways.

New flow from smart cities

Cities are challenged to create more efficient ways to deal with the impact of growing populations while remaining sensitive to environmental, economic and quality-of-life issues. Today’s forward-thinking municipal leaders are using technology to become “smart,” using technology to increase efficiency and reduce waste. For example, cities are using smart technology to connect traffic lights to improve traffic flow, monitor waste and recycling bins to keep their communities clean, and automate street lights and parking meters to improve efficiency and save money.

A new broadband structure

Fifth-generation technology, or 5G, is expected to spawn a new mobile industrial revolution by creating the crucial communications links to connect billions of smart devices. 5G will produce major productivity enhancements across industries and governments. This will only increase the need for wireless infrastructure and require creative use of existing infrastructure, such as bus shelters, building rooftops, light poles, streets, ducts, tunnels and towers. Close collaboration between municipalities and infrastructure stakeholders will be crucial.

5G could prove one of the most transformational standards in the history of technology. There is a potential for a wave of economic growth, job creation and greater global competitiveness in every sector of the U.S. economy. But 5G's promise is only as good as the infrastructure on which it stands. 5G requires up to 100 times more antenna locations than 3G or 4G. Fully realizing the potential of 5G depends on how efficiently it gets deployed.

The benefits of mobile broadband to individuals, to businesses, and to cities are undeniable.  Mobile broadband impacts every sector of the economy. Policies need to encourage investment and innovation to reap these tremendous benefits. When policymakers at the federal, state and local levels work closely with industry, robust broadband deployment will become a reality for all communities.