by Russell Hancock and David Witkowski

On April 20 Joint Venture's Russell Hancock and David Witkowski addressed the Cupertino City Council in a special study session on permitting guidelines for small cell facilities.

Cupertino has famously slow connectivity, and a process for addressing it that is becoming increasingly drawn out. "It's ironic that the city that invented the iPhone has some of the slowest networks in the region," said Hancock, Joint Venture's CEO.

Hancock saluted the Cupertino Council for prioritizing the issue and entered into the record the following:

  • Cell coverage is not merely a city issue. It is also a regional issue.
  • Poor connectivity has serious implications for the region's safety, security and competitive standing.
  • The pandemic has shown how connectivity has become a basic requirement for communities to thrive in the 21st century, and a lifeline to students engaged in remote learning.
  • Connectivity is so important that the Biden administration is proposing $100 billion for network expansion in its infrastructure spending plan.
  • Nationally, in 2018 4G contributed $937 billion (4.2%) to our national gross domestic product, and will contribute 4.8% to GDP by 2023. 5G will contribute $112 billion in 2024, $198 billion in 2028, and $271 billion in 2030. 5G will contribute $1.5 trillion to national GDP between 2021 and 2025.

David Witkowski, executive director of Joint Venture's Wireless Communications Initiative, entered the following into the record:

  • Cellular communication is increasingly the technology of choice for connectivity. Over 60% of households in the Western US are wireless-only, they no longer have wired telephones. Across the US, 50 million children live in wireless-only households. And for over 75% of people below the age of 34 - young adults just starting their careers - cellular is the connectivity technology of choice. 80% of calls to 911 are made from cellular phones, so robust in-home cellular coverage is critical for public safety.
  • Cellular broadband has been a lifeline during the pandemic shelter-in-place. Students shifted to distance-learning en masse in March 2020, and 4G hotspots were given to students for home use. Without adequate 4G coverage in residential neighborhoods, this would not have been possible. Per the Santa Clara County Office of Education, of the 16,000 students who were provided with internet access, 14,200 of them relied on 4G hotspots.
  • 5G is not just about faster smartphones. It will be used for delivery of home internet broadband, providing an alternative to DSL/cable/fiber and giving consumers alternatives to wired broadband.
  • Beliefs that cellular equipment will reduce property valuations are unproven by objective economic analysis. Joint Venture Silicon Valley (2012), Valbridge (2018), and Maennig (2010) all found no evidence of property value reduction from cellular equipment.

Concerned citizens throughout the region can communicate their concerns to the Cupertino City Council.

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