U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steven Benjamin today said that when thinking about smart cities, it’s important not to fall into “the trap of just focusing on technology and infrastructure” and to remain focused on the goals of making city services more effective and efficient, of creating jobs and economic development, and of improving a community’s quality of life.
“We know cities and the FCC have disagreed pretty vehemently on several issues in recent years,” Mayor Benjamin said during remarks at an event titled “Partnering with Communities to Build Smart Cities Tomorrow,” which was hosted by Charter Communications, Inc., immediately following an appearance by FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly (see separate story), arguably the FCC’s most outspoken critics of municipal actions in the broadband area.
“But we’re not here to talk about that today,” Mayor Benjamin said.
Mayors “recognize that 5G is coming and that we must prepare with strong partnerships,” as well as the large private investments that 5G wireless deployment will require, he said, adding that cities want to work with communications service providers.
“When we talk about public-private partnerships, we have to remember that cities are a partner in this,” and that “we have to continue the work on a strong dialogue,” he said.
It is “imperative we all be at the table together,” he added.
He also emphasized that existing users of city rights-of-way have often made substantial investments over the years in establishing and maintaining those rights-of-way, and now it’s time to consider “how do we make sure [5G infrastructure is] deployed in a way that doesn’t impede other uses of the rights-of-way. How do we make sure all users pay their fair share?” —Lynn Stanton, email@example.com