Viewpoints

This bill would provide faster Internet

On Wednesday, the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee will consider a bill that is critical if California is to stay at the leading edge of technological innovation. (“Democratic legislators take bold stands, except when they don’t” Editorials, July 10)

Senate Bill 649, by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, and me, would establish a standardized, expedited process for statewide deployment of the equipment necessary to power 5G, the most advanced wireless technology ever to come to market.

I respect concerns of local government. But SB 649 reaffirms the power of local governments to impose reasonable zoning and aesthetic restrictions on the small cell antennas necessary to support 5G service. Local jurisdictions will receive fair payment for use of their poles. And installations will remain subject to all applicable health and safety requirements.

Once installed, 5G speeds are expected to be 100 times faster than current wireless service and can serve exponentially more users with greater reliability. Since many more small cells are needed to make 5G deployment effective, it does not make sense to endure a hodgepodge of varying approval approaches and timelines for each individual cell.

Before I was elected to the Assembly, I worked as a climate scientist at NASA, and while at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, I helped negotiate the ban on nuclear weapons testing. As a scientist, I apply the rigorous analysis to public-policy decisions that I once did in astrophysics. SB 649 achieves an appropriate balance between protecting municipal interests and developing infrastructure investment that will benefit all Californians.

SB 649 will help families and businesses gain access to a technology that will reshape modern life. The 5G technology will support smart cities, improve public safety, and provide environmental and economic gains. Put simply, SB 649 is vital to California’s future and deserves support.

Assemblymember Bill Quirk is a Democrat from Hayward.

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