Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Spokane Continues Expansion of 5G Technology Network

The city has administered at least 188 engineering permits for equipping utility poles with 5G cell arrays. Officials hope that the 5G network will provide a fast and safe connection for residents.

(TNS) — To date, the city of Spokane, Wash., has at least 188 engineering permit records involving Avista-owned utility poles that have been equipped with Verizon 5G cell arrays, according to city officials.

Verizon launched its "5G Ultra Wideband" service throughout the Spokane area in late 2019. The fruits of that labor, and the latest advancement in cellular network technology can be seen in the nodes attached to the top of utility poles throughout the city.

At a base level, 5G is fifth-generation wireless technology. It's an upgraded cellular network over its predecessor, 4G, offering faster speeds and greater reliability, said John Shovic, an electrical engineer in the University of Idaho's computer science department.

"It really turns the wireless communication system into competition for things like cable modems and even low-speed fiber optic lines," Shovic said. "It gives the consumers more options."

5G uses higher frequency radio waves, meaning they travel shorter distances and can be easily absorbed by objects like buildings, leaves and even rain — requiring carriers like Verizon to rely on strategically placed cell arrays, also known as base stations, said Ting-Yen Shih, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UI.

"This is the reason Verizon and all these companies want to deploy all these base stations compared to the old technology," he said.

In the Spokane area, Verizon has installed cell arrays downtown, as well as in the city's Cliff-Cannon, Comstock, Hillyard, Northtown, Nevada Heights and West Central neighborhoods. Fixtures can be found near the Glover Mansion, Cowley Park, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Comstock Park, and there are also locations in Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. Further expansion is ongoing, said Heidi Flato, a Verizon spokesperson.

Other carriers with 5G coverage in the Spokane area include AT&T and T-Mobile, according to the companies' coverage maps.

Washington state law requires Avista to make facilities available to telecommunications carriers to provide products and services to their common customers, said David Vowels, an Avista spokesperson.

Applications for 5G, Shih said, also include autonomous driving and the "internet of things," a system of devices connected over the internet that can collect and transfer data without human interaction.

"This is more like a new ecosystem that will accommodate the old technology," he said. "This 5G bandwidth will accommodate a 4G, 3G technology."

Shovic calls concerns about the safety with the technology "another one of those conspiracy theories."

With the electromagnetic spectrum, Shih said, there is ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation, such as x-rays or gamma rays, are capable of damaging DNA.

Radio frequency waves, like the ones used with cellular networks, are a form of the less powerful non-ionizing radiation. Other forms of non-ionizing radiation include visible light and microwaves.

The Federal Communications Commission has a limit on the level of human exposure to radio frequency emissions from mobile phones. According to the FCC, radio frequency emissions from antennas used for cellular transmissions are "thousands of times below safety limits," therefore leaving "no reason to believe that such towers could constitute a potential health hazard to nearby residents or students."

"Even at that high frequency and even with so many base stations, the power of this wave arriving at your skin at the level of this regulation, you are safe," Shih said. He added, "5G provides a way we can share the (electromagnetic) spectrum in a smart way. In that case, we can accommodate more and more devices, and we can make this all possible."



(c)2021 The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Special Projects
Sponsored Stories
Sponsored
In this episode, Marianne Steger explains why health care for Pre-Medicare retirees and active employees just got easier.
Sponsored
Government organizations around the world are experiencing the consequences of plagiarism firsthand. A simple mistake can lead to loss of reputation, loss of trust and even lawsuits. It’s important to avoid plagiarism at all costs, and government organizations are held to a particularly high standard. Fortunately, technological solutions such as iThenticate allow government organizations to avoid instances of text plagiarism in an efficient manner.
Sponsored
Creating meaningful citizen experiences in a post-COVID world requires embracing digital initiatives like secure and ethical data sharing, artificial intelligence and more.
Sponsored
GHD identified four themes critical for municipalities to address to reach net-zero by 2050. Will you be ready?
Sponsored
As more state and local jurisdictions have placed a priority on creating sustainable and resilient communities, many have set strong targets to reduce the energy use and greenhouse gases (GHGs) associated with commercial and residential buildings.
Sponsored
As more people get vaccinated and states begin to roll back some of the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic — schools, agencies and workplaces are working on a plan on how to safely return to normal.
Sponsored
The solutions will be a permanent part of government even after the pandemic is over.
Sponsored
See simple ways agencies can improve the citizen engagement experience and make online work environments safer without busting the budget.
Sponsored
Whether your agency is already a well-oiled DevOps machine, or whether you’re just in the beginning stages of adopting a new software development methodology, one thing is certain: The security of your product is a top-of-mind concern.