Orlando Mayor Likens 5G Deployment Competition to ‘Modern Space Race’

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Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer recently deemed the city’s Creative Village as a prime spot for tech-savvy workers leaving Silicon Valley and compared cities’ and counties’ races to deploy high speed 5G connectivity to a modern space race, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The mayor said during his annual State of the City speech that he supported a 2020 ballot initiative that Orange County Mayor Jerry Deming brought forward, which would add a penny to county sales tax to expand transportation options.

“We must provide a variety of options that connect people to where they want to go,” Dyer said. “Not every resident will use every transit option, but we need transit options for every resident. Our economy and our ability to attract high-paying employers depends on it, our quality of life depends on it, and our future depends on it.”

Embracing high speed 5G connectivity would help integrate more self-driving vehicles, Dyer added. The region was named one of 10 autonomous vehicle proving grounds by the U.S Department of Transportation and local driving service Beep recently announced it would operate a driverless shuttle in the Lake Nona area.

Dyer also stated during his speech that the city implemented a streamlined permitting process for 5G to allow quicker benefits. Beginning in September, self-driving vehicles can operate on Florida’s roads after Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill this month.

This “helps us understand why the race to 5G is the modern equivalent to the space race, and why Orlando needs to win that race,” Dyer said.

With 5G’s deployment imminent and Orlando preparing to be a leader in self-driving vehicle use, the city’s planning department has projected wireless carriers will need approximately 20,000 nodes to bring about 60 percent coverage to the area, the Orlando Sentinel reports. During a recent City Council workshop, officials stated they along with the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) were looking at how to encourage carriers to use current infrastructure for wireless equipment, especially in the more populated downtown areas.

“What we have beginning to happen is a lot of nodes occurring on Orange Avenue,” Chief Planner Doug Metzger said. “If you were to line them all up, you’d be looking at a node every 90 feet. In my perfect world, I’d love to get two nodes on every pole.”

To reduce clutter, carriers would have to agree to share the new poles installed throughout Orlando or reach an agreement with the OUC to install equipment on the utility’s tower. Metzger said he wants to have a plan established by early October to align with this objective. To expedite the roll out, Orlando has permitted carriers to create a master file of all poles and equipment they plan to use in the city, the Orlando Sentinel reports. According to Metzger, after the master file is approved the staff reviews on individual small cell permits could be cut in half.

The cities that work with carriers will be the first to benefit from the automation and economic opportunity that 5G will provide, according to Wireless Infrastructure Association President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein.

“The cities that make it easy to deploy wireless infrastructure will be the first to get 5G,” he said. “I expect Orlando to be in the company of those who get 5G first.”

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