By Raoul Lowery Contreras
San Diego is at the center of the 5G revolution. We have the chance to show the state, and perhaps the nation, the innovation that the next generation of connectivity can bring. San Diego should continue to be the model for smarter cities and new connectivity. But this can only happen if we let it.
The next generation of wireless will use an expanded network of small cells that work alongside existing fiber-optic cable and cell-tower infrastructure to deliver lightning-fast download speeds. Implementing small cells is key to enabling 5G and will lay the groundwork for innovations across many industries. These innovations will lead to new technology like self-driving cars, and enable networks to host remote surgery.
What are small cells? Small cells are much smaller than traditional towers or rooftop installations. They are typically installed on existing right-of-way infrastructure like street signs, telephone poles, or streetlights. However, for something so minimally intrusive, there are significant barriers to timely deployment. Many cities and counties have unclear, restrictive permitting processes which lead to inconsistent regulation.
Cities often stand in the way of their own positive change. Unfortunately, this may be the case in San Diego. When a call is dropped, a video doesn’t load, or a text doesn’t send, we get angry at our cell provider. But when making sure that the infrastructure is available to make better service a reality, thoughtful debate is thrown out the window.
It is vital for local governments to understand the community-wide benefits of working collaboratively with infrastructure providers. Equitable regulations can lead to faster and less intrusive deployments with the benefits of increased connectivity realized sooner.
While the world is moving toward a faster, more resilient 5G network, San Diego should realize the potential for rapid deployment and installation of this equipment. We would be seriously mistaken to believe misguided “aluminum-foil-hat” opinions that would prevent small cells from being built across our city.
As a veteran there are a few medical conditions that I have to constantly monitor. One of these is diabetes. With the implementation of 5G technology, monitoring my diabetes in real time could allow for better treatment. 5G could support a connectivity speed that would allow me to obtain more detailed data that could be directly shared with my doctors, who could remotely alter my treatment in real time. But it isn’t just diabetes treatment that has the potential to be transformed by 5G technology.
Telemedicine could bring healthcare to remote areas that lack access to medical professionals — but what it needs is the technological infrastructure to support it. For example, over a dozen San Diego County Indian reservations have clinics. With 5G enabled real time transmissions, the clinic general practitioner could bring world-class medicine to the patient in seconds.
San Diego has the opportunity to lead the charge in deploying a revolutionary technology that will build out the fastest network ever known. The innovations that will come from 5G are endless. We have an opportunity to transform San Diego into a truly smart city, with programs that monitor transportation patterns, self-driving transportation, and seamless connection to vital infrastructure. With 5G, networks will have the bandwidth to allow patients, police, fire and businesses to benefit from life-saving programs, treatments, and technology.
The arrival of 5G is inevitable, and it won’t be long before we are demanding it. We can either continue bickering in City Council meetings about aesthetics and fallacious health issues or seek better ways to professionally install and activate 5G networks in San Diego.
I vote for rapid 5G cell installation. If we’re hoping to remain innovative, we need to continue to evolve ahead of the times, and 5G technology is the San Diego way to do so.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a Marine Corps veteran, political consultant and author of the new book White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) & Mexicans. His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.
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