Can 911 Find You As Fast As Uber Can? If Not, Blame Our Mobile Infrastructure

Small-cell antennas are crucial for ensuring the public can get the information and help needed during an emergency, says Mike Montgomery.

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A whopping 95 percent of Americans own a mobile phone, and nearly two-thirds have a smartphone. That extra layer of communication should keep us safer in emergency situations, says Mike Montgomery, but only if first responders can trace our calls to our locations, and if warning systems are robust enough not to fail when we need them most.

(The wildfires that ravaged California last year with insufficient warning to some residents spring to mind as an example.)

“It is mind-boggling to think that more often than not, your pizza delivery person has more accurate location information than the paramedics — especially when you consider the fact that upwards of 80% of 911 calls originate from a mobile device,” says Montgomery, who argues that the first step in resolving the communications gap is updating our wireless infrastructure — in particular by deploying a network of small-cell antennas. Read what that entails here.

America Can’t Afford To Drag Its Feet On 5G

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“Cities such as Sacramento and Long Beach in California are aggressively moving forward with 5G,” writes CALinnovates’ Kish Rajan. “These emerging cities may find themselves attracting the Googles and Amazons of tomorrow as larger cities drag their feet on 5G.”

That foot-dragging isn’t just potentially bad for local economies, contends Rajan; it’s also a threat to America’s global competitiveness.

To date, the U.S. has been the global leader in innovation – in large part due to our leadership in the wireless space – but there’s a real risk America will lose our position to China and South Korea if we lose the race to 5G.

The economic benefit of leading the move to the next level of network speed and capacity is not fiction. History shows that 5G will provide tremendous economic benefit. America led the way on 4G technology, resulting in $100 billion in economic impact. We took that lead position from the European Union, which had been ahead of the game on 2G. Losing that front-runner status led to job losses and contractions in the telecom hardware and software industries in Europe.

We can’t afford to have the same thing happen in the U.S.

Read Rajan’s full story here.

Small Cell Antennas Could Give Big Boost To Long Beach Internet Access

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Greece Odyssey 263

Small cell antennas about to start springing up in downtown and northwest Long Beach, bringing with them the prospect of faster and stronger internet access.

Irvine-based Crown Castle, which already has installed 19 small-cell antennas in Long Beach, plans to add dozens more, a move that officials hope will help bridge the city’s digital divide.

The Press-Telegram has the full story here.

 

Sacramento Leads The 5G Way

It’s time for others in the state to learn from Sacramento and embrace the future, writes Kish Rajan.

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Mobile Phone Tower

“There is little doubt that 5G will change what we think of as being truly ‘connected,’ but who will get it first,” writes CALinnovates’ Kish Rajan. “If you guessed the usual suspects – Silicon Valley, San Francisco – you would be wrong.”

Leading the way, according to Rajan, is Sacramento. Read why here.

L.A. Loves That Elon Musk Scent. But Why No Love For High Speed Rail?

High speed rail should be getting the fast track treatment.

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The L.A. City Council is falling all over itself to speed Elon Musk’s plan to bore giant tunnels under the city. There’s no question the new tech is cool. Just look at this:

But it’s totally untested and drilling in our seismic neighborhoods is a little disconcerting.

Meanwhile, high speed rail, a tried and true technology that could help speed commuters between L.A. and San Francisco cutting down on car and airplane trips, is languishing at the federal level. Read more here.

Unblocking 5G: New FCC Rules Make it Easier to Build Fast Networks

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By Kish Rajan

The Federal Communications Commission last week voted to kick-start 5G wireless networks in the United States by exempting them from some reviews that hinder installation.

It’s about time.

So far, the U.S. lags far behind the world leader — China — at getting 5G networks up and running. “There is a worldwide race to lead in 5G, and other nations are poised to win,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel acknowledged in January. It’s an embarrassing place for the country that invented the internet. But more than that, our hesitancy to streamline the process for installing vital infrastructure is costing us money, jobs and security.

Today, we’re coasting along on 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks. Experts warned as far back as 2011 that 4G would be maxed out within four years because data demand was growing too fast to be accommodated by 4G bandwidth. And it’s not slowing. In the U.S., data usage will be seven times greater in 2021 than it was in 2016. By 2020, more than 50 billion devices and 212 billion sensors will be connected to wireless networks. All this data is making 4G networks crowded, slow and spotty.

The annoying buffering while streaming video, the random dead zones and the snail-like pace of sending photos over text can be attributed to our inefficient and overwhelmed 4G networks. The more people using it, the slower it goes, which is why it’s often difficult to do anything on your phone in Los Angeles unless you’re on Wi-Fi.

5G networks are much more efficient at using spectrum. They’ll increase capacity 100 times or more over 4G and be able to move data at least 10 times faster, allowing for all sorts of real-time applications. And that’s just the beginning. 5G is vital to improved safety, reliability and economic development.

According to a 2017 Accenture report, smart cities and Internet of Things (IoT) improvements led by 5G capabilities have the potential to create $160 billion in benefits and savings. Then there’s the economic boost of building 5G networks. Accenture predicts that 5G could result in $275 billion in investments, create 3 million new jobs nationally and grow GDP by $500 billion.

Small cells can be easier and cheaper to install than traditional cell towers, but they rely on density to provide fast, reliable data service. A college football stadium, for example, needs 40 to 60 cells to provide full coverage. Unfortunately, building a 5G network isn’t as easy as it should be because there’s no federal standard. That means each state and municipality has its own series of complicated, confusing and contradictory rules covering installation.

Industry is prepared to deploy hundreds of thousands of small cells on utility poles throughout the country. But it can take as long as a year, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, to navigate through cumbersome local and state regulations designed to govern 200-foot cell towers. These unobtrusive small cell solutions simply should not be compared to traditional cell towers.

The FCC ruling is a good start, as it will eliminate some of the repetitive and unnecessary review processes. In fact, Accenture estimates it will save $1.6 billion. But states need to get on board, too. It’s in their own best interests and those of their constituents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of American households now are cellphone only, which means they rely entirely on wireless networks for service. That explains why 80 percent of 911 calls are mobile. 5G networks will be a boon to first responders — and the people seeking help.

In California, despite being the national epicenter of innovation, we’re lagging behind. Last year a bill that would have helped the 5G industry was stopped due to concerns from local municipalities about installation of the cells. While local governments’ concerns most certainly need to be addressed, we can’t allow the 5G conversion to become mired in red tape.

It’s time for California to embrace 5G technology. As the world’s sixth-largest economy, California cannot simply keep pace with the rest of the country; it must instead set the national and global example. Let’s get to work.

Kish Rajan is chief evangelist for CALinnovates.

How SB 649 Will Help Keep California Competitive

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CALinnovates’ Kish Rajan Talks About How SB 649 Will Help Keep California Competitive

A bill currently making its way through the state Senate would make it easier for California to move to a 5G network. But it has stoked blowback from local municipalities that fear giving up any control over where phone companies can place the small cell antennas necessary for making 5G a reality.

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An Urgent Call for Rural Broadband on California Ag Lands

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Author: Bob Gore

OK, I’m asking for your help here, for a worthy and mutually beneficial effort. First, here’s a free tip and something that’s not widely known.

The “brainiacs “at Lawrence Livermore National Lab in Berkeley have invented the first viable nitrogen sensor for soil, according to a friend of mine at the USDA. For those of you who don’t snap to this, it’s potentially huge.

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Pai’s Agenda is Good for Rural USA

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Author: Roger Bostwick

Being connected to the internet has become essential to staying in touch with the rest of the world, keeping up with news and managing day-to-day activity on our farms, ranches and businesses. For this reason, it has become more and more important for people across our country, but particularly in rural communities, to have access to high-speed internet. Unfortunately, though urban and suburban communities may take it for granted, this high-speed connectivity is not a reality for many of us in outlying areas.

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High Schoolers Get Mobile Hot Spots to Bridge Digital Divide

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Author: Maureen Magee

Keneshia Johnson is among 250 students at Crawford High School to get a free mobile hotspot device and wireless Internet access under a pilot project that took effect Thursday.

It’s a big deal for the 17-year-old on a couple of fronts: It allows her to use her school-issued laptop at home for homework and even to surf YouTube at Netflix, and it will give her more time to sleep in the mornings.

“I usually get up extra early so I can get to school and log on my computer to finish up my homework,” said Keneshia, an eleventh-grader who gets to Crawford up to an hour before classes start at 7:15 each morning. “Now I can actually use my school laptop at home. My family is allowed to use it, too. ”

The San Diego Unified School District is part of a national project that gives free mobile hotspots to students whose family can’t afford Internet access at home.

Under a partnership Sprint, the 1Million Project aims to help curb the so-called “digital divide” that contributes to the achievement gap among student groups.   

An estimated 5 million U.S. families with school-aged children have no internet access at home, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data. At the same time, roughly 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires web access, creating a “homework gap” that educators say puts these students at a disadvantage academically.

“It’s so easy to take Internet access for granted,” said Richard Lawrence, principal of Crawford, where 80 percent of the 1,100 students qualify for subsidized meals based on family income. “This program allows students to log on to computers to study at home or on a bus. It opens up access to a world of information for their parents, too.” 

Sprint and the Sprint Foundation are working on the multi-year initiative to reach one million low-income students across the country by providing them with connectivity to use with school district-provided computers.

“We have heard some powerful and heart-wrenching stories from disadvantaged students about their efforts to find connectivity to keep up with their school assignments when they don’t have home Internet access,” said Kevin Kunkel, Sprint’s Regional President for Southern California.

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten said the program compliments the district’s technology initiative that has put take-home laptops and other devices in the hands of 16,000 students in 44 schools this year, including every student in the elementary and middle schools that feed into Crawford in and around City Heights.

“We are recognizing what our students need and trying very hard to give it to them,” Marten said. “We want our students to be able to learn 24/7 and we want to give them access to modern learning tools.” 

Giving students Internet access at home not only allows them to work on lessons from their regular classes, it allows them to study for online make-up classes offered at Crawford and better compete with online charter schools. 

San Diego was chosen as one of the project’s 11 markets nationwide to pilot the Sprint initiative with 4,000 students.  Educators will study the pilot program through the end of the school year in preparation for a full roll-out at the start of the 2017-18 school year.

The socioeconomic and ethnic diversity of San Diego Unified made it a good candidate for the project, officials said. Families with a household income of $40,000 or less are dramatically less likely to have broadband internet access at home, according to a recent report from the Public Policy Research Institute.  

Schools and school districts that want to apply to participate in the program can visit www.sprint.com/1million project for more information.