HARRY C. ALFORD

With reports showing that roughly 80 percent of consumers consider mobile services indispensable, (http://bit.ly/2AUs2E2) minority-owned small businesses will require access to resources that will allow them to compete in our fast-paced modern economy. The next generation of wireless, known as fifth-generation or “5G,” will mark another leap forward to redefine the U.S. economy as we know it.

It appears that a lot of work must be done to ensure 5G is available for consumers and small businesses to use. Recent research by Accenture (https://accntu.re/2AV5OSp) shows that 5G will require the deployment of more infrastructure to accommodate the dramatic increases in mobile usage by our citizens. Cell towers have traditionally been the main means for wireless coverage. 5G will require increased backup help from “small cells,” in addition to the traditional towers. Small cells can be integrated into existing community infrastructure like street lamps or utility poles. In the same way that secondary store locations can offer backup capacity when one store location becomes overwhelmed by customer orders, small cells can tag team wireless traffic to ensure that our small businesses can run their operations without delay.

The problem is that it can take anywhere from 18 months to two years just to approve a single small cell. Most areas today have laws on the books that only see wireless as it used to operate, unfairly treating small cells like towers. In addition to this problem, the approval cycle for permission to build a single small cell is unacceptable. Depending on the location, a planning commission, zoning commission, county council, or other government reviews may delay deployment, a process that physically takes a worker only a couple of hours to install.

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