By Stefanie Jackson
The fifth generation of mobile internet is coming to Northampton County, and Exmore will be home to the first tower to transmit it.
Abbreviated 5G, it’s the latest generation of the mobile web to keep people connected using their cellphones to check email, search the internet, stream video and more when they’re away from home and out of range of their wireless routers.
Exmore’s director of utilities and zoning administrator, Taylor Dukes, made the announcement Monday night.
“I think it looks good for Exmore that … they think Exmore’s a good spot to go,” he said of the “worldwide telecommunication company” that will build the tower.
Experts project that 5G will be 10 or even 20 times faster than 4G, the most powerful generation of mobile internet currently available on the Eastern Shore, allowing more users to connect more mobile devices.
New 5G technology will help power what is termed the “internet of things” – devices other than computers and cellphones that access the internet, from smart thermostats to driverless cars. It will also enable “smart cities” to use the internet to monitor infrastructure and increase operational efficiency.
As with every next generation of the mo-bile web, a next generation cellphone will be required to access it. Consumers who choose not to upgrade their phones will still be able to use 3G and 4G networks.
The fifth generation of the mobile internet will increase the capability of consumers to use their phones as mobile routers and create Wi-Fi hotspots that give them internet access on other devices like laptops and smart tablets.
Some consumers use the mobile internet at home as an emergency backup in case they lose electricity and/or their internet connection. Others use the mobile web for all their internet needs.
In either case, consumers should keep in mind that they must pay a cellphone service provider for both internet access and the data used to download content from the web. Dukes said the 195 foot tower will be located behind the Shore Plaza shopping center. Three 5G cellphone towers are also planned for Accomack.
Exmore’s planning commission will hold a public hearing about the tower on Feb. 11, 7 p.m., followed by another public hearing at the March town council meeting, where the planning commission will seek the council’s approval for the project.
By Stefanie Jackson