By: Andrew Strafaci

Telecommunication companies have set a  2020 deadline for the unveiling of functional 5G networks, legislators at the local, state, and federal levels will need to actively consider the legal effects that the new technology will have on our society. 5G networks will allow downloadable bandwidth speeds of up to 20 gigabytes per second (to put this into perspective 4G LTE networks, currently the fastest available, allow 1 gigabyte per second).[1] When fully integrated into our society, 5G could make the most recent technological advancements seem archaic. The potential advancements that 5G will provide, as well as the means of installing the network itself, will create an urgent need to reexamine an expansive list of laws ranging from privacy, to property rights.
5G will jumpstart the next leap in technological advancements. The ability to transfer almost 20 times the amount of data that current networks can provide will be a catalyst for the redefinition of every day apps and social media, as well as powering both the “internet of things” and self-autonomous vehicles.[2] However, with new technology comes a need to reexamine the law, and how it will need to adapt in a constantly changing world. Exponentially increased data speeds will allow an individual to stream a high definition movie to their phone with the ease of watching a Snapchat video.[3] It will also allow individual users to upload such videos.[4] Theoretically, the way in which people interact on social media could transition to predominantly video messages.[5] to copyright can become more when everyone can upload a movie about their daily life on a whim. Yet even these legal arguments pale in comparison to the issues of liability when 5G networks allow self-driving cars to communicate regularly with each other and their surroundings, effectively eliminating the need for a human driver.[6]
Before the advancements can become a reality, the network itself must be installed, which requires hurdling a litany of property rights issues.[7] 5G networks are powered by small-cell radio antennas.[8] and cellular service by numerous large cell towers that broadcast a signal to miles of surrounding area mall cell systems will shrink that broadcast down to a mere couple of dozen feet.[9] nstead of one cell tower covering a area, companies will roll out hundreds of small antennas in discrete locations, creating a web-like network.[10] With shorter distances to travel, larger amounts of information can be transferred between antennas, and with more reliable accuracy.[11]
cells being installed within right of way. Predominantly, telecom companies have turned to utility poles and street signs as reliable mounting points for 5G radios.[12] In response, local municipalities have begun to fight, and sometimes prohibit, companies from intruding on public right of way for further utility installations.[13] Companies have turned to either case law, the Telecom Act of 1996, and more recent state legislation in order to prevent local government blocking of network installations.[14] Often, the issue at hand is negotiating rental fees for mounting antennas within the public right of way.[15] While municipalities seek higher fees to justify public interest, telecom companies argue that high rental fees will greatly undermine the efforts of creating the next wireless internet network.[16]
he issue turns to state legislators, who can either limit or enhance the power of municipalities.
  1. Tim Fisher, How reG and G Different?, Lifewire (Sep. 12, 2018),
  2. Michael Nunez, What s 5G and How illt Make My Life Better?, Gizmodo (Feb. 24,2016),
  3. Alissa Fleck, The Shift rom 4G to 5G ill Change Just About Everything Adweek (Jun. 18, 2018),
  4. Id.
  5. Nathan . Greenblatt, Self-Driving Cars ill e Ready Before ur Laws Are, IEEE (Jan. 19, 2016),
  6. Carey L. Byron, Cities Argue 5G Internet Rollout Laws Violate Property Rights, The Christian Science Monitor (Mar. 2, 2018)
  7. See
  8. Rick Boucher, Clearing a Way for a 5G Wireless World, Bloomberg Law (Nov. 15, 2017),
  9. Jonathan Babcock, Joshua Turner, and Anna Gomez, 5G Deployment Faces Unique Challenges Across The US, Law 360 (Aug. 1, 2017),
  10. See.
  11. See

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