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OpinionCommentary

LI needs 5G - and small cells pave the way

This is how we unlock the full potential of tech innovation in our community.

The 5G logo for Chinese fiber optic cable

The 5G logo for Chinese fiber optic cable maker YOFC at the PT Expo in Beijing in September. Photo Credit: AP/Mark Schiefelbein

As the United States pushes to lead the global race to the new generation of wireless networks known as 5G, regions like Long Island must do their part to make sure they don’t fall behind.

The first step for Long Island is to expand the installation of small cells, shoe-box-sized devices placed on traffic or utility poles that transmit 5G signals and form the backbone of next-generation networks built by the telecom industry. Without this technology, our wireless networks will not be able to support critical advancements that will secure Long Island’s economy.

Our organization strongly believes that paving the road to 5G is an unprecedented economic opportunity, one that will benefit all Long Islanders. But right now, a small minority in opposition is trying to drive tech innovation away. We cannot afford for that to happen.

In recent months, many have sought to misrepresent 5G technology and perpetuate myths about debunked health concerns. But the reality is that 5G is going to play a positive role in our lives. It will enable us to be safer, think smarter and react more quickly. Every industry from health care and education to energy, transportation, commerce and law enforcement will be positively affected.

Right now, New York is home to about 7,000 startups that employ more than 350,000 people. Having the proper tech infrastructure would help draw even more companies to put down roots in our state and many of these innovators would choose to set up shop on Long Island, creating new jobs, boosting tax revenue, and contributing to our tech culture.

On Long Island, a thriving tech industry powered by 5G could mean more than 15,000 new jobs for Long Islanders. It means $1.3 billion in new investment from tech companies in local communities and $2.8 billion in economic activity for the area. And it means bolstering the framework to cement Long Island as a tech hub and boosting our economy for a generation.

Many Long Islanders understand how important 5G is to our future. A recent survey found that 90 percent of respondents see the need for high-speed broadband infrastructure to enhance public safety, health care and education, and agree that advanced mobile technology and high internet speeds attract and keep tech-driven businesses. According to the survey by RABA Research, Long Island voters support installing small cells in their communities and expect officials to enact policies that attract this investment, such as streamlining the approval process for small cell deployment.

We must unlock the full potential of tech innovation in our community by encouraging the advancement of wireless networks and the deployment of small cells. If we don’t act now, Long Island’s economy will suffer for generations.

 Peter Goldsmith and Paul Trapani are, respectively, chairman of the board of directors and president of LISTnet, a nonprofit organization in Plainview that promotes the growth of technology on Long Island.

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