5G wireless for Sioux Falls? U.S. Senate committee explores possibility

Oct. 11, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by SDN Communications.

Overall, rural Americans are vastly outnumbered by their counterparts in urban areas. However, as Dakota State University President Jose-Marie Griffiths points out, 85 percent of all U.S. cities have a population of fewer than 10,000 people. That shouldn’t be overlooked, she said.

She doesn’t want the mostly rural state of South Dakota to get passed over in a coming wave of telecommunications development called 5G.

Griffiths and other technology experts, including SDN Communications CEO Mark Shlanta, will testify about that at Sen. John Thune’s Senate Commerce Committee field hearing at 3 p.m. Friday at Carnegie Town Hall in Sioux Falls.

Witness testimony and opening statements will be available on the website for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation. You can watch a livestream of the hearing on YouTube here.

Griffiths wants DSU and South Dakota to be a test site for 5G. U.S. businesses are competing with companies from around the world, particularly those from Europe and Asia, to develop it. The economic consequences could be huge. Technologies could include more connected, wearable devices, smart home technology and even driverless vehicles, which all comprise the so-called Internet of Things.

5G mobile systems are expected to be faster and have greater capability to serve connected devices than current 4G technology. While 4G has focused on transmitting video, 5G strives to more effectively tie together smart devices.

DSU is not developing 5G; cybersecurity of the devices using the technology would be DSU’s specialty. But Griffiths envisions the state becoming a key demonstration site.

“We’d like South Dakota to be the first state to implement 5G statewide,” she said. “We have a vision that we call SD5G. We’d like to see 5G tested at DSU and then spread out around the state.”

Griffiths has been in talks with telecom leaders and government officials, and SDN already works with wireless providers on backhaul, which involves moving the wireless data from towers to the providers’ switches via SDN’s vast, 45,000-mile fiber optic network buried in the ground.

SDN’s work with wireless providers over the past two years has included deploying dozens of small cells in communities, including Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, Brookings, Sturgis, Yankton and Sioux City. Those small cells are a precursor to 5G. More small cells are needed in the region to accommodate current wireless needs and the future 5G.

No longer will 200-foot or 300-foot cellphone towers be as necessary to notably improve coverage. Small cell poles that stand 32 feet high will largely suffice. Smaller poles take some of the load off bigger macro towers and route data to underground fiber network provided by companies like SDN. Click the image below for a larger version.

“Wireless calls, small cells or 5G, it’s still all about the wires — fiber optic wires in the ground,” Shlanta said. “It’s only the very last part of the connection, the part from the handset to the tower, that is wireless. The rest of the call or data travels fiber assets that companies like SDN have deployed.”

Shlanta will talk about the need for continued fiber investment to successfully deploy small cells and 5G, especially in rural areas lacking basic broadband service.

Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He has been pushing legislation that will open more spectrum to telecommunications companies to help develop 5G.

To learn more about the evolving communications technologies, visit SDN Communications’ Small Cell Resource Page. 

It includes:

  • Video: What they mean for you
  • Video: What they mean for public safety
  • Infographic
  • FAQ sheet

5G wireless for Sioux Falls? U.S. Senate committee explores possibility

Tune in Friday as a U.S. Senate committee field hearing comes to Sioux Falls and advocates for 5G push for a test site here.

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