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Seattle Area a Good Site for 5G Development, Says Analyst

By increasing bandwidth and reducing slow times, 5G will enable more people to do more online

At COSM 2019, Jay Richards interviewed Bruce Agnew, Director of the Seattle-based ACES Northwest Network on the collective’s work in bringing ACES (Automated, Connected, Electric, and Shared) vehicle technologies to the Puget Sound region. They discussed, among other things, the role that 5G will play in implementing autonomous vehicles.

Since 1993, Bruce Agnew has been the Policy Director of Seattle-based Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Center. The Cascadia Center is a strategic alliance from Vancouver, BC, to Eugene, Oregon, promoting high speed passenger rail, Interstate-5 freight mobility, seamless border crossings, bi-national and bi-state tourism marketing, and sustainable community development. Two of his co-chairs, Tom Alberg and Bryan Mistele, were also interviewed in this series (at the links).

From the interview:

Agnew began by pointing out that the Seattle area is well-suited to the development of advanced transportation systems:

Bruce Agnew: Now, we have connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles, autonomous trucks, drones, urban air mobility opportunities. So, it’s just become a huge field for study and research, and there’s no better area than Puget Sound with Amazon and Microsoft and Boeing and our major companies and tech companies. We should be deploying these vehicles here. ACES is kind of a cheerleading group to try to expedite that deployment.

Jay Richards: Are you optimistic about how it’s going?

Bruce Agnew: I am. I mean, most of the testing, Waymo, GM Cruise, has been in the Southwest, California and Phoenix, but we think that if we can get ready by putting electric charging stations in for a variety of delivery vans or Uber, Lyft, or employer shuttles that we see increasingly here, that will help. 5G is a big deal. 5G is the connected, the C part of ACES.

Note: 5G is the fifth generation of online networked communications we can access anywhere. The prospect of much faster internet compared to 4G means that many more of the services we need can move online and be accessed while in transit. It will also make self-driving (autonomous) cars much more practical.

Jay Richards: Okay. So, 5G. Let’s focus on that because that’s been an abiding concern here at the conference. Why is that important specifically?

Bruce Agnew: Well, it basically increases bandwidth and reduces latency. So, the data that Bryan [Bryan Mistele] talked about in the presentation—coming to the vehicle from the cloud, coming to the vehicle from traffic lights that the vehicle can communicate with to change traffic lights, and vehicle to vehicle communication—all are enhanced by 5G because there’s a bigger bandwidth and quicker reaction. So, it adds a degree of technical capacity to the vehicle that allows it to avoid accidents. So, the community that adopts 5G will be attractive to companies like Waymo and GM in terms of the deployment of these vehicles. So, we’re excited about it.

Bellevue, a city across Lake Washington from Seattle, is emerging as a local hub of 5G development.

Bruce Agnew: The chamber of commerce and the tech businesses working with ACES, expedited the advocacy and the city council told city staff, “Let’s get this thing going.” And of course, there’s the FCC ruling about certain amount of time to permit these and in a reasonable cost per small cell carrier, the small cell deployments on the utility pole. Some of the cities are fighting that, but most cities are recognizing that they should negotiate with the AT&Ts and the T-Mobiles and the Verizons to get this thing done because there’s so many economic benefits, from healthcare to autonomous vehicles ,that make a city attractive if they have 5G.

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Seattle Area a Good Site for 5G Development, Says Analyst