5G cell service gradually ramping up in Austin with more than 700 small cell sites approved

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — You may have heard of 5G wireless technology or even seen it show up on your phone, but the highest speed 5G isn’t available for most of us yet. KXAN Meteorologist Nick Bannin spoke with Scott Dunaway from the Texas 5G Alliance to discuss 5G and the expansion of this technology into the future.

According to Dunaway, 5G is the next generation of wireless high-speed technology that’s expected to bring connections at least 40 times faster than what most people currently experience. It’s the next step up from 4G LTE, which is what the vast majority of us have experienced the last few years.

The highest speed 5G, known as millimeter wave, is being deployed, but coverage is limited as infrastructure is still working to catch up with the new technology. The fastest 5G requires small cell phone towers on top of telephone poles rather than fewer, but larger, cell phone towers, in order to provide speeds similar to at-home wifi.

Samsung and Apple have 5G millimeter-wave capable phones, but even with the right phones, your speeds are only as good as the network your phones rely on for internet connectivity. Until a full small-cell network that powers a 5G network is deployed, you won’t quite experience those true 5G speeds in a widespread and readily available way.

IN-DEPTH: Approved 5G small cell sites

City data as of November/December 2020

  • Houston: 5,455
  • Dallas: 1,948
  • San Antonio: 1,760
  • Austin: 717
  • Forth Worth: 513

According to the Texas 5G Alliance, recent polling found nearly 80% of Texas residents support faster action from their city leadership to implement 5G technology. The poll also discovered that 70% of Texans think 5G technology and increased connectivity will improve public safety in their communities.

As of November/December 2020, Austin had approved 717 small cell 5G sites and has 128 permits outstanding.

The CTIA found that in Austin, 5G will contribute $16.2 billion in GDP growth and create 42,500 new jobs. A new report from Accenture found that 5G will bring Texas $235.8 billion in additional sales, $130.5B in new GDP and 1,355.2K in potential new jobs.  

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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