Localities: Defeating Moore’s Law, Technological Progress, Better Lives for Americans

by Mike Wendy on November 1, 2017

Moore’s law – which states that roughly every two years computing power doubles – is being defeated by local officials.


Cellphone reception in our area has been spotty for years. When at home, I get around this by using wi-fi assist, which connects my calls seamlessly.  Elsewhere  – especially near the local military base – service isn’t so great.

Recently, however, my provider began putting in new “micro-sites” to improve coverage. I look forward to this because it will make my smartphone truly useful in the areas where I live and do business – that is, in mobile settings, outside of my house (like the cellphone / smartphone is designed to do).

Establishing new cell towers for better coverage here has been a contentious issue for a long time. Parent groups and other “anti-radiation” activists have waged war on keeping cell towers off local school grounds, government buildings and private private property. Irrational (and debunked) safety concerns, among others, have hogtied local officials, creating a string of virtual dead zones in the eight-mile stretch of roads from Old Town Alexandria down to Mt. Vernon.

Anti mobile activist demonstrating in front of the FCC earlier this year.

Our area is not alone. This experience is commonplace throughout America.

Sadly, we all lose as a result.

The mobile Internet is the future. Private networks are racing to meet this demand. 5G technology represents the next step for U.S. mobile broadband networks. But, there’s a hitch. While it will provide lighting speeds for mobile products, its infrastructure also needs more cell site “densification” due to its signal characteristics. Consequently, for this next step to succeed, we’re going to need a several-fold growth in the location of cell sites across America.

Thankfully, this infrastructure will be smaller – about the size of a pizza box. But that doesn’t mean the challenges are any less. Rather, if our area is any example, it will only multiply the opportunity for local officials and activists to hold up technological, societal and economic progress.

Non-towered cell / antenna site located atop a private building in Fairfax County.

As the former FCC official who “discovered” wi-fi, Michael Marcus, tweeted this morning:

“Wireless infrastructure is a bigger contributor to #5G capacity than even #spectrum but faces problems w/timely local gov’t approvals…”

This does not need to occur. Localities should work with private operators to develop better policies which reduce bureaucracy, time and expense in getting mobile infrastructure online.  Sure, cities can do what they want. But, they will be left behind in the information age – and their constituents will have fewer tools with which to make their lives more productive, connected and better – should their policies and practices favor the slow road of the past.

Moore’s law, and the progress it brings, shouldn’t be laid low by snail-paced, extortive local processes.

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