Governor’s signing ceremony celebrates Virginia’s bright digital future

Richmond Times-Dispatch,  June 16, 2017

Virginia Gov. McAuliffe held a formal signing ceremony Thursday to celebrate a bill that is going to bring the state one step closer to becoming future ready for the coming digital revolution. By paving the way for the deployment of fifth generation wireless, the recently passed legislation (HB 2196) establishes a uniform approval process for siting wireless infrastructure and will create jobs, attract investment, and enhance the quality of life in both rural and urban communities across Virginia.

Fifth generation, or 5G, wireless is a game-changing technology that will offer users speeds up to 100 times faster than current wireless networks and latency (or lag times) so short that results will be almost instantaneous. 5G will form the basis for smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and other exciting new technologies and tools, many of which haven’t even been invented yet, for use in everything from medicine to manufacturing, entertainment to public safety.

5G is not deployed through the conventional cell towers we’re used to seeing, but with “small cell” antennas about the size of a pizza delivery box, mounted on existing structures like utility poles or rooftops. The placement of small cells is bogged down by lengthy, burdensome local permitting procedures used by communities to control tower location. The Virginia legislature wisely passed this recent legislation to streamline small cell permitting and make the process uniform across the state, opening the door for 5G deployment.

That’s a smart move. Not only will 5G support an estimated $500 billion in U.S. GDP growth and the creation of 3 million new jobs, its implementation will generate some $275 billion in infrastructure investments by the private sector. The legislature and Governor McAuliffe, acting together on this bill, have moved Virginians to the head of the line for their share of those significant economic benefits.

Thanks to ultrafast 5G technology, communities will be able to cut energy consumption, improve public safety effectiveness and first responder response time, untangle traffic snarls, and save taxpayers money. Smart cities will be centers for innovation and job creation. With this bill, Virginia communities will be better positioned to take their place in the smart city race.

Several local business owners attended the signing ceremony. Virginia businesses, small and large, are excited about the prospects of 5G, knowing that it will be the key to their success and prosperity in coming years.  Making sure businesses across the state have access to this next level connectivity is essential to Virginia’s ability to compete in the modern economy.

This signing deserves the special recognition it has received. The legislature and Governor McAuliffe have accomplished something important with this bill. And it will be exciting to see all of the innovation that results from this commitment to creating cities of the future.

Chelsea Collier