When public-sector IT leaders talk about closing the digital divide, broadband and fiber are the most common solutions states and cities consider to get quality Internet to far-flung, underserved areas. However, those represent costly upgrades to infrastructure.
At the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) midyear conference in April, Kentucky CIO Charles Grindle discussed the possibility that 5G could also be the solution to his state’s rural connectivity issues. The state is currently at about 80 percent broadband penetration, but could it be a better use of resources for the remaining 20 percent if they skip broadband altogether?
With its promise of higher speeds and lower latency, 5G currently seems to be taking hold primarily in cities, where it can support emerging technologies like the Internet of Things and autonomous vehicles. But in Kentucky, Grindle suggests, maybe those rural regions are better off bypassing the current LTE infrastructure and broadband investment and going straight to the next generation of Internet connection.