Timothy Schoechle, PhD is an international consultant in computer and communications engineering and policy based in Boulder, Colorado. He is a Senior Research Fellow of the National Institute For Science, Law and Public Policy (NISLAPP).
Some combination of 5G/4G may well become part of the wireless access network over the coming decade. However, for this to happen, several factors will influence this future.
Technical standards will need to be completed and spectrum will need to be allocated. Mounting public concern over the health risks of electromagnetic radiation will need to be dealt with and new biological science-based exposure standards will need to be established. Otherwise, public pushback, litigation, and political action will continue to afflict the industry and its plans. It is likely that public skepticism over the flamboyant claims of the tech industry will continue to grow as practical and market realities confront the promises of AVs, VR, AI, and IoT.
The industry may need to bear more of the cost of its small cells as courts and legislators in response to political forces begin to unwind industry’s private appropriation of the public rightsof-way and rein in their de facto public subsidy. A political change at the national level may enable a revitalization of antitrust policy and enforcement that could throttle back the corporate domination and political power of telecom network operators and social media technology giants.
Perhaps most importantly, widespread deployment of local municipal fiber access networks providing far superior fiber service—all the way to the home or office—may mitigate much of the need for wireless access services, as described in the report, Re-Inventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks.