January was momentous for expanding internet access across the nation. The C-Band spectrum, radio airwaves that wireless providers spent tens of billions of dollars on to provide 5G service, went live.  This means that mobile internet speeds now compare to internet speed through fiber cable for millions of Americans.

But like too many times with the rollout of 5G, what should be a day of celebration was not without controversy. The Federal Aviation Administration and many airline carriers raised safety concerns that the C-Band would interfere with older airplanes’ equipment. This was unfortunate not just for the thousands of people worried about flight cancellations, but also for those who are counting on 5G technology to close the digital divide.

Ultimately, a rollout of this new 5G technology went ahead, but some urban areas near airports still lack this new 5G coverage. This is a failure on the part of the government. Countries across the world use C-Band, often with older airline fleets, with no safety issues.  Many are hopeful this issue will be resolved at a Congressional hearing in early February.

This new 5G technology will inevitably make its way to most Americans and improve their lives. But its unnecessary delays are emblematic of many of the issues that 5G has faced across the nation and in Louisiana.

Ensuring that all Americans, not just ones in large cities like New York and Los Angeles, have access to 5G, requires the deployment of lots of equipment around the country. This is an expensive and time-consuming process. Government often makes these problems worse by charging high fees or having long approval times to deploy the equipment. Many of these decisions are made at the local level.

5G will be important to ensuring that Louisiana has access to fast internet, and for providing internet access to rural areas which currently lack affordable and reliable internet options.

Louisiana policymakers should strive to make it easier for companies to expand 5G and all internet access to the Pelican state. Here are a few ideas for them.

  1. Reduce costs and application times for 5G infrastructure
  2. Open state infrastructure for deployment for wires and wireless infrastructure
  3. Standardize taxes and recurring fees on internet equipment

With these policies, Louisiana can ensure government doesn’t get in the way of 5G access.

You can read more about internet access in Louisiana here.