Service providers have said for months that the end of net neutrality will make it easier for them to monetize 5G networks by offering enhanced service levels. Now that net neutrality is over, they may find that in some places, deployment of 5G infrastructure will be harder.
Many 5G networks will rely on fiber-connected small cells to transmit large volumes of data over short distances using high-frequency spectrum. Service providers can’t deploy these small cells without the cooperation of city and state governments. The densely populated areas that need small cells are typically controlled by multiple zoning and permitting requirements, and often the ideal spot for a small cell is within the public right-of-way.
States are well aware of the power they have. Several state legislatures have considered legislation designed to expedite small cell deployments, and many have passed laws that override local authority to pave the way for the wireless industry. Now, some of those same state legislatures are going to be looking at proposals to limit access to those companies that comply with net neutrality.
“California can regulate business practices to require net neutrality, condition state contracts on adhering to net neutrality, and require net neutrality as part of cable franchise agreements, as a condition to using the public right-of-way for internet infrastructure, and in broadband packages,” said California Senator Scott Wiener. Wiener plans to introduce legislation at the beginning of 2018.
Governor Jay Inslee of Washington plans to take control of as much policy as he can when it comes to internet service in his state. His proposal includes limiting the applicability of utility pole attachment rules to ISPs that demonstrate net neutrality, and using the state’s role as a purchaser of internet service to press for net neutrality from providers. He also wants to create a multi-state purchasing cooperative to buy internet service from net neutral providers.