Preparations are underway to bring the future of wireless internet to the Treasure Valley.
Over the past two years, Verizon representatives have worked with officials in Ada County and Boise on new ordinances that will allow the company to deliver 5G cell service using transmitters mounted on telephone poles and streetlights.
4G networks ushered in an era of photo and video-based apps like Snapchat and Instagram, and allowed for responsive GPS technologies. 5G, or fifth-generation, wireless could allow for downloads of a gigabit per second or more, AT&T and Verizon have said. Cell phone companies say 5G will enable technology like self-driving cars and could allow someone to download entire films in mere seconds.
A 5G signal’s bandwidth for data is greater, but it reaches a smaller area — about a 1,500 foot radius, compared with a few miles for 4G signal. That means that along with today’s 200-foot cell towers, 5G networks will require new “small cells,” using wireless transmitters about the size of mini fridges, throughout their service areas. The transmitters come in boxes small enough to attach to the tops of existing poles or to place on rooftops.