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Opinion
Longboat Key Thursday, May 23, 2019 5 months ago

Letters to the editor: Getting cell-service right

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Island residents sound off on Key topics.
by: Guest Writer
5G is the way to go right now

I read your article, “Towering Decisions,” in the April 25 issue of the Longboat Observer with great interest. When I re-read the article I noticed that no mention whatsoever is made regarding the type of technology that is planned for the new mobile network on Longboat Key (eg. 4G vs. 5G). 5G is smarter, faster, more efficient, and has already started to be rolled out in communities across the country.

Why is this important and what does it have to do with the poles? 5G uses frequencies in the 30 GHz to 60 GHz range while 4G networks use frequencies below 6 GHz. Because higher frequencies result in greater bandwidth, 5G networks have a more dense distribution network than 4G — think a greater number of poles but much lower in height. Decorative poles along Gulf of Mexico Drive to service a 5G network could be 15 feet to 20 feet in height while providing Longboat Key with the latest technology in mobile networks.

4G networks, by comparison, employ slower, less efficient older technology, which relies on the use of higher towers spaced farther apart. Given the time and effort which has gone into this highly anticipated project, why wouldn’t the town jump at the chance to install a 5G network on lower, attractive looking poles? It seems like it would be a win-win.

Charles Lynch

Longboat Key

Don’t be Luddites; town needs 5G

I would like to add a perspective to the Longboat Key undergrounding power and 5G cellular internet initiative.

5G is the evolution of today’s 4G LTE cellular into tomorrow’s truly modern digital network. Broadly speaking, 5G encompasses the Internet of Things (IoT), smart homes, smart cities, smart cars, telemedicine and health.

All telecommunication companies nationally and worldwide are pursuing this aggressively. Any city or area that does not evolve its digital network to 5G will be left behind socially and economically.

It will directly affect the value of real estate, business competitiveness and quality of life issues. We cannot be left behind the modern digital world.

The decision should be made in the best interest of all citizens, not a vocal few. 5G is being introduced into dense urban markets or cities first because of large startup costs. But Longboat Key, as we know, is not a dense urban market.

Nevertheless, if we can reduce that infrastructure cost with a private/public partnership, we can be on the cutting edge with the significant market advantage it provides.

The town is pursuing this objective.

The upcoming decision regarding the lighting pole/5G antenna height should be based on technical requirements. Of course, neighborhood aesthetics, size of poles and lighting issues are important and must be considered as rightly pointed out by citizens. Various manufacturers recognize this, and a number of choices meet those objectives.

However, height is an issue to be decided on technical merit and cost. If a minimum height of 30-35 feet is not chosen, it will add approximately 25% or more poles and reduce technical efficiency and add costs.

Who wants a pole forest? This decision is critical to the future of Longboat residents and particularly regarding the large number of seasonal visitors.

The height decision should be made in the best interest of all citizens not a vocal few. A maximum height of 35 feet should be chosen!

This would reduce the number of poles, reduce cost and substantially contribute to technical efficiency. Introducing cutting-edge technology will increase property values and quality of life.

If a poor infrastructure is built, our cellular, Wi-Fi, internet and fiber cable services will be worse than they are today. The Internet of Things (IoT) and demand for media services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and movies will overwhelm the network. This is happening today and getting progressively worse.

Today Longboat experiences cellular dead zones and poor internet/Wi-Fi service. Recently I had visitors that communicate with their businesses and friends via computer and smart phones. They experienced considerable difficulty. They ended up visiting Sarasota each day to conduct business. This reflects negatively on Longboat Key.

Real estate and resort businesses and full-time/seasonal owners should be concerned that other regional competitors in the marketplace would have 5G modern digital services that increase their market and real estate values and diminishes ours, making us non-competitive. In fact, I am surprised the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce and real estate agencies are not aggressively participating in the 5G discussion to protect future real estate and business values. It will be hard to present Longboat Key as a high-end destination with poor information services.

Bottom line: The need for 5G is clear and unequivocal.

I attended the recent excellent Longboat Key Civic Academy. The town manager and the Town Commission have recognized the need for an expanded information technology department for efficiency in government and implementing smart city concepts. It is an impressive forward-looking program and will prepare the city for the 5G explosion of services.

My past involved, among other positions, being a director of products (digital) for a large telecommunications company, and I understand that world. Being on the cutting edge of technology involves trial and error, sometimes additional cost and changes that are often uncomfortable.

But the 5G revolution is an upcoming staggering change to society and a leap into a modern digital world. No community can afford to be left behind. We cannot be Luddites!

Sadler L. James

Longboat Key

A lot to consider with arts center

It’s hard to be right when everybody’s wrong.

The town is in an interesting situation with the arts center idea. Everyone makes valid points but comes to the wrong conclusions. The result is chaos.

We should move slowly and get all the facts, yes. But we should also understand that we’re not even walking yet, much less running. Details can be figured out. No one is pouring concrete yet. It’s a vision to be filled in with reality based on what happens with fundraising and more.

Worried about season-long uses? Why? We’re not going run it. Ringling is. Maybe the library could move into the building. Maybe the town uses some space.  Maybe a police substation? There are lots of possibilities.

And it if fails, we’ll think of something. When I get back in the winter, I hope to see progress.

Get on with it.

Stephen S. Chartoff

Longboat Key  and Lansing, Mich.

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