It was meant to make Minnesota more amenable to the next generation of wireless technology.
5G wireless will increase speeds and make way for everything from driverless vehicles to remote-controlled surgery. And backers of the technology — 5G stands for fifth generation — say it will be a potent economic development generator that has geopolitical implications. China is considered ahead of the U.S., for example, and woe is the economy that finishes second.
So in 2017, Republicans at the Minnesota Legislature inserted language into a budget bill that established a common set of statewide rules, fees and timelines across jurisdictions.
At the time, local governments objected to the rules, which they feared would give away rights-of-way for less than they were worth. But for the most part, industry won — and Minnesota became an early target for what are formally called “small cell wireless facilities.”