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Jun 25, 201911:13 AMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

5G wireless bill will better connect Wisconsin

(page 1 of 2)

To the casual user, the evolution of wireless technology has been a steady progression of higher speeds that have enabled people to move from email and texting on clunky mobile phones to video streaming and fast internet searches in about three decades.

From the first-generation, or 1G, analog networks of the 1980s through the digital 2G, 3G, 4G, and LTE systems of today, the growth in speed and capacity has brought a more connected world while opening the door to technologies that are transforming the economy, improving health care, making cities “smarter,” and more.

And yet, it’s only the opening act.

The next iteration in wireless technology is 5G, which is engineered to geometrically increase the speed, reach, and responsiveness of wireless networks. While the march from 1G through LTE (short for “Long-Term Evolution”) technologies was nothing short of impressive, 5G will achieve speeds three times today’s standards across larger coverage areas while transmitting much more data.

An international race is on to roll out 5G networks and Wisconsin is finally at the starting line.

Legislation that would make it easier to build 5G networks and the associated “small-cell” transmitters necessary for such systems to work has passed the Wisconsin Legislature by wide, bipartisan margins and will soon reach Gov. Tony Evers. If he signs the bill into law, Wisconsin will join all neighboring states in removing potential regulatory barriers to the technology.

With 5G, technologies such as augmented reality, autonomous and connected vehicles, and connected sensors will become more widely available. It could also provide the extra bandwidth needed to advance the “internet of things,” a network that links not just phones and computers but also robots, cars, and all manner of sensor-equipped consumer products and infrastructure.

The advent of 5G will speed a new era of “smart cities” in which energy grids, traffic signals, and emergency services are linked for efficiency. It will also revolutionize health care, starting with dramatically improved remote monitoring for patients. Providers will get the data they need in real time and use it to provide the right care. Cybersecurity and the overall stability of the electric grid may also be improved; entertainment and retail will also see big changes.


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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.



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