Commentary: 5G can help North Carolina

Sen. Paul Lowe

Commentary: 5G can help North Carolina
August 30
10:55 2018

By Sen. Paul Lowe

Next-generation, 5G wireless could be one of the greatest economic development tools we have seen in decades. I urge leaders at every level – from the Federal Communications Commission down to local city councils – to take steps now that will ensure 5G is available quickly and broadly. That most definitely includes the minority communities that ardently seek the kind of opportunities this technology will offer.

Since I assumed office in 2015, representing the people of Forsyth County in the North Carolina Senate, I have been a strong supporter of job creation and economic growth. I have introduced numerous pieces of legislation designed to show that North Carolina is open for business.

5G is going to create tremendous opportunities for businesses both small and large to expand and prosper, and for workers to build better lives for themselves and their families.

Groundbreaking new networks and the technology that will run on them will support countless innovative new products and services and give companies new ways to connect with customers and better meet their needs. One study released last year estimates that 5G will increase U.S. GDP by $533 billion and create $1.2 trillion in long-term consumer benefits.

In North Carolina, 5G investment could reach $8.08 billion, creating almost 15,000 new jobs that would provide more than $5 billion in wages. We are one of the top 10 states in America that will benefit the most from 5G.

But to secure those benefits, we have to make ourselves ready for 5G. In other words, we have to show that we’re open for investment to build the networks. Unlike previous generations of wireless infrastructure that were defined by large cell towers, 5G will be defined by a dense network of small cells. These antennas – most no larger than a backpack – will be mounted on existing structures like light poles.

The challenge is that permitting regulations written for cell towers that cover communities are being applied for small

This creates problems for wireless providers as the red tape-laden, expensive and time-consuming process slows small cell placement in a big way.

Over 20 states, including North Carolina, have taken action to modernize their wireless infrastructure regulations to better position themselves for the 5G future. This progress is encouraging, but it’s not enough if the ultimate goal is for America to be first to 5G. The FCC must continue pushing us all forward with overarching rules that clear the path for investment – and not only that but investment that flows quickly and in all directions.

The North Carolina population has become increasingly more diverse over the years and minority residents have contributed greatly to our economy and society. But too often, minority communities still find themselves lagging behind in employment, education and wealth.

According to a 2010 study from UNC Chapel Hill, among 33 states with available data, North Carolina had the seventh largest wealth gap between white and minority households. For all North Carolinians, regardless of their ethnicity, that statistic should be simply unacceptable.

5G can help us close the gap between majority and minority populations. By welcoming state-of-the-art, next-generation wireless, we can prepare more young people to succeed in a digital society, attract new employers into our state and create new jobs.

I have proudly served as pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Winston-Salem for more than two decades. I consider my mission in the Senate an extension of my ministry, as both are professions that allow me to help people in need. North Carolina minorities, and other workers, need the opportunity to make a living and I am convinced 5G can help provide them with that chance.

Please join with me in support of smarter wireless infrastructure permitting policies to make 5G a reality in our state.

(To access the 2010 study from UNC Chapel Hill, go to:

Sen. Paul A. Lowe Jr. is a Democrat from Forsyth County who represents District 32 in the N.C. General Assembly.

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