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Ga. Lawmakers Adopt Final Report To Expand 5G As It Launches In Atlanta

AT&T announced its mobile 5G network is now up and running in a dozen cities, including Atlanta.
AT&T announced its mobile 5G network is now up and running in a dozen cities, including Atlanta.
Credit Mark Lennihan / Associated Press
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The Internet provider AT&T announced Tuesday its mobile 5G network is now up and running in a dozen cities, including Atlanta. The company said it plans to make 5G mobile devices available to a few customers on Friday.

At the same time, state lawmakers adopted a final report Tuesday morning with recommendations for expanding 5G in Georgia: providing Internet speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G using small wireless devices and antennas. It also increases bandwidth and reliability in heavily populated areas and largely depends on fiber optic cables.

Sen. Frank Ginn is chair of the committee. He said he tried to mediate between city and county governments concerned about “local control” of their public right-of-ways and the telecommunications industry wanting to install equipment more easily.

“We said either y’all work it out and then we can ratify it in state law or we’re going to address it in state law without y’all having an agreement,” Ginn said. “And to me, I think that was the catalyst to make things happen.”

Committee member Sen. Steve Gooch says he thinks it will benefit rural Georgia.

“Even in a small rural area where there’s a downtown community like Dahlonega or Dawsonville, Cumming, you’ll see 5G deployed in those areas as well, but initially I think you’re going to see most of it in the urban areas and the suburban markets,” Gooch said.

Gooch said the bill passed twice in the Senate last year, but failed to pass in the House. He expects it to pass easily early next year.

The committee’s report encourages more cooperation between city and county governments that are concerned about “local control” of their public right-of-ways and the telecommunications industry wanting to install equipment more easily.

Another recommendation is to charge wireless companies less than what the Georgia Department of Transportation charges for access to right of ways in order to lower costs for companies that want to expand internet and phone service.

Todd Edwards, deputy legislative director of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, said he worked for many months on a compromise, but does not support the last-minute amendment to the report.

“There’s a set state rate for DOT involving the fiber and telecommunications equipment in the right of way,” Edwards said. “I think it’s a double standard to say local governments should do this but yet, having DOT, the state, charge whatever they want, I think it should be a level playing field. All right of ways should apply.”