Sunday Reading -02/23/20

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

California Is 2020’s 4th Most Sinful State – WalletHub Study – Every state is known for its own virtues and vices. But harmful behavior on the individual level can result in staggering economic costs, considering that gambling addiction costs the U.S. $5 billion per year and smoking costs dwarf that with over $300 billion per year.

With Mardi Gras coming up and sure to be full of drinking, drug use and sex, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2020’s Most Sinful States as well as accompanying videos along with its Mardi Gras Facts – Booze, Floats, Money & More infographic. To determine where the U.S. has the most moral growing to do, WalletHub compared the 50 states based on seven sinful behaviors: anger and hatred, jealousy, excesses and vices, greed, lust, vanity and laziness.

Here are some highlights from the report:

Sinfulness of California (1=Most Sinful; 25=Avg.)
12th – Anger & Hatred
6th – Jealousy
25th – Greed
2nd – Lust
2nd – Vanity
27th – Laziness
Read More > at WalletHub

What makes dogs so special? Science says love – The idea that animals can experience love was once anathema to the psychologists who studied them, seen as a case of putting sentimentality before scientific rigor.

But a new book argues that, when it comes to dogs, the word is necessary to understanding what has made the relationship between humans and our best friends one of the most significant interspecies partnerships in history.

Clive Wynne, founder the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, makes the case in “Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You.”

The animal psychologist, 59, began studying dogs in the early 2000s, and, like his peers, believed that to ascribe complex emotions to them was to commit the sin of anthropomorphism—until he was swayed by a body evidence that was growing too big to ignore.

…One of the most striking advances comes from studies regarding oxytocin, a brain chemical that cements emotional bonds between people, but which is, according to new evidence, also responsible for interspecies relationships between dogs and humans.

Recent research led by Takefumi Kikusui at Japan’s Azabu University has shown that levels of the chemical spike when humans and their dogs gaze into each others’ eyes, mirroring an effect observed between mothers and babies. Read More > at Phys.Org

The biggest scandal in education is hiding in plain sight – Kids hear all the time that working hard and earning A’s and B’s in school will open opportunities for them later in life. Families rely on those grades to tell them whether their kids are getting what they need out of school to become happy, successful adults. In fact, they trust report card grades more than standardized test scores or any other indicator of their kids’ progress. Unfortunately, for millions of families, report card grades are deeply misleading—offering false confidence that their children are well-prepared for their futures when they’re not.

Earlier this month, the Fordham Institute released a study that further confirmed this scandal that’s hiding in plain sight in almost every school in the country. The study found huge variation in grading standards among Algebra 1 teachers in North Carolina—meaning that an A or a B might reflect very different levels of mastery from classroom to classroom. Grading standards depended not on policy, but on factors like the teacher’s experience level, the selectivity of the college they attended, and even their gender. Crucially, these different grading standards had a significant impact on students: According to the study, students learned more from teachers with higher grading standards, and those gains persisted up to two years later.

The study also found that high grading standards were not distributed randomly, but are a product of the same pernicious inequities that dictate how critical resources like talent, funding, and access to excellent instruction are provided. Suburban schools and schools serving more affluent students were far more likely to have high grading standards. Read More > at The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Baby Born from Egg that Was Matured and Frozen in the Lab – A34-year-old woman has given birth thanks to a new fertility procedure that involved collecting, maturing, and freezing some of her eggs five years earlier. Although lab-based maturation of eggs has been done before, the case study, published yesterday (February 18) in Annals of Oncology, represents the first successful pregnancy from immature eggs that were frozen after they were matured.

“We didn’t know whether or not the frozen eggs would survive and keep their potential to produce a pregnancy and live birth,” study coauthor Michaël Grynberg, head of reproductive medicine and fertility preservation at Antoine Béclère University Hospital in Paris, where the procedure was carried out, tells The Guardian. “It was a good surprise for us.”

The woman opted for a fertility preservation treatment after being diagnosed with breast cancer at 29 years old, as chemotherapy drugs can contribute to infertility.

The standard fertility intervention for women about to receive chemotherapy consists of a procedure in which doctors administer hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce mature eggs and then remove and store those mature eggs for later use.

In this case, the use of these hormones was deemed too risky by the woman’s doctors as the treatment might worsen her cancer. The patient also did not want to undergo surgery to have part of her ovarian tissue removed, frozen, and re-implanted after her cancer treatment, given the invasiveness of the procedure.

So researchers at Antoine Béclère University Hospital removed immature eggs from her ovaries, matured them in the lab over the course of a couple of days, and then froze them in liquid nitrogen by a process called vitrification, in which cells are rapidly cooled down to avoid the formation of destructive ice crystals.

Several years later, the doctors thawed seven of the eggs, fertilized the surviving six with sperm injections, and implanted the one resulting healthy embryo into the patient. Her baby boy, Jules, was born last summer. Read More > in The Scientist

California governor seeks to expand involuntary treatment – Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to make it easier for the government to force psychiatric treatment for people with mental illness and expand statewide a still-developing test program that allows officials to more easily take control over those deemed unable to care for themselves.

In a State of the State address Wednesday devoted almost entirely to the issue of homelessness, the Democratic governor said the state should broaden those laws “within the bounds of deep respect for civil liberties and personal freedoms — but with an equal emphasis on helping people into the life-saving treatment that they need at the precise moment they need it.”

San Francisco, with one of the nation’s most visible homeless populations, is on the verge of trying a new conservatorship program to allow court-ordered mental health treatment for people deemed incapable of caring for their own health and well-being because of serious mental illness or drug addiction.

Temporary conservatorships could be triggered with an individual’s eighth 72-hour involuntary mental health hold in a 12-month period. Such commitments are commonly called “5150s,” after the legal code section for detaining someone considered to be a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness.

Under the program, a 28-day temporary conservatorships could be followed by six-month programs in which judges could order patients to receive treatment. If they can’t be treated at home, they could be ordered into community-based residential care facilities. Read More > from the Associated Press

NFL Owners Approve Principal Terms of New CBA, Now Players Must Vote – NFL team owners briskly left a hotel in downtown Manhattan late Thursday afternoon, having approved the principal terms for a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with the players. The attention now turns to the NFL Players Association, which will discuss on Friday whether to approve these same terms, negotiated between the NFL and the players union over the past 10 months.

The vote to approve was not unanimous among the 32 clubs, per a source with knowledge of the results. Notable changes among the terms voted upon include expanding the playoff field to include one extra team from each conference, for a total of 14 teams in the postseason, starting in 2020; a 17-game regular season with three preseason games, which would be instituted no earlier than 2021; and an increased revenue share for the players, up from 47 to 48 percent, or 48.5 percent if they move to the 17-game regular season.

Player leadership will convene via a conference call on Friday. Two-thirds of the 32 player reps, and a majority of all NFL players, would need to approve the terms for a new CBA. It’s not clear when negotiations would resume if the players do not agree to these terms, but the league’s statement indicated that if these terms are not accepted they will not keep trying for an agreement before the new league year. The current CBA expires in March 2021. Read More > in Sports Illustrated 





The new thing for California politicians? Sweet charity – The California Legislature’s Latino Caucus recently circulated a memo offering a potential perk for members: A trip to Cuba to learn about “culture, history and possibly government structure and policy making.” The caucus’ nonprofit foundation, the memo said, would help pick up the tab. A visit to Israel for the Jewish Caucus was similarly underwritten, in part, by its nonprofit. The nonprofit Irish Caucus has organized three trips to Ireland for legislators and lobbyist friends.

A nonprofit run by a California assemblyman has helped fund a literacy organization led by his wife, who, as CEO, was drawing a six-figure salary. Nonprofits run by lawmakers and their staff are hosting fundraisers where lobbyists can mingle at the Disneyland Hotel with politicians, and policy conferences where tech executives can dine in Silicon Valley with legislators shaping California’s laws on data privacy and the gig economy.

These organizations also underwrite charitable work — scholarships, cultural celebrations, community film screenings — and let public officials help the state or advance causes they care about without tapping taxpayer money. But unlike campaign accounts, they often offer a tax break and can raise unlimited sums from powerful special interests, with fewer disclosure requirements. Read More > at CALmatters

Signs That You Spend Way Too Much Money on Food Shopping – Food is the third-largest living expense (after housing and transportation) for the average American family. That’s probably inevitable. We have to eat to live, and for a whole host of reasons, the things that we like to eat — and especially those that are both satisfying and nutritious — tend to cost a fair amount of money. You might be surprised at how much, according to the USDA’s monthly report on the cost of food at home.

We often end up paying more for food than we should, though, for reasons that are largely our own fault. We shop badly. We don’t take advantage of ways to save money. We waste food, buying things that we never end up using, that end up spoiling before they reach our tables.

There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of all the great things to eat that are available to us, if we can afford them, of course, but it’s all too easy for food costs to get out of hand.

Click here to see signs that you’re probably spending way too much money on food.

Hive heists: why the next threat to bees is organized crime – Mike Potts was aware he was at risk of being a victim of crime, he just didn’t think it would happen to him. But Potts is an owner of an increasingly valuable commodity that thieves are targeting with growing sophistication in the US: bees.

A booming demand for honeybees for pollination drew Potts, owner of Pottsy’s Pollination in Oregon, to load 400 hives of his bees on trucks and drive them down to California’s agricultural heartland last month. He unloaded them to a holding area just outside Yuba City and returned just a few days later to find 92 hives had been whisked away by thieves.

The theft is the latest in a string of beehive heists, often undertaken at the dead of night using forklifts and trucks. Hives are regularly split open or dismantled, interventions that can kill tens of thousands of the kidnapped bees. The problem has become severe enough in California that certain police officers now specialize in hive crime.

The center of beehive thefts is California’s Central Valley, a fertile stretch of agricultural land responsible for about a quarter of all the produce grown in the US. This huge output – of lettuce, grapes, lemons, apricots and more – requires pollination from far more bees than naturally live in the area.

The main driver of the demand for honeybees is the almond industry, which has doubled in size over the past two decades. There are currently 1.17m acres of almonds in California that require pollination which, at a standard rate of two beehives an acre, means the industry somehow needs to conjure up 2.34m beehives for a short window of time each February, when almond trees start to blossom.

Beekeepers from across the US congregate in the Central Valley in a sort of annual almond jamboree; more than two-thirds of the nation’s commercially managed honeybees sent on trucks to a 50-mile-wide strip of fertile land. Unlike native, wild bees like bumblebees, honeybees are carefully marshaled in hives and are now more valuable as contract pollination workers than as honey producers. Read More > in The Guardian

Wine vs. weed in Napa Valley – Napa Valley is famous for its cabernet sauvignon. But with the cannabis industry moving in fast, some of the region’s storied vintners are sounding the alarm that California’s newest legal crop could damage the flavor — and brand — of their prized wines.

Those grape growers worry that pot won’t pair well with the terroir they have spent a century and a half cultivating.

Napa County has explicitly banned commercial cannabis growing in its unincorporated rural areas, where most vineyards lie. Local farmers and winemakers are keen on protecting Napa, but they have philosophically opposing views on how weed could affect the region’s reputation — which could be tested this year if residents get a chance to vote on allowing cannabis cultivation.

Some winemakers see marijuana as a threat to their image and, potentially, the quality of their grapes. But others see cannabis as the only real way to diversify the county’s grape-dominant agricultural economy as millennials shy away from wine drinking.

Because the price of agricultural land in Napa is so high, growers say that cannabis is the only crop that makes economic sense to plant. Commodity crops like strawberries or lettuce simply wouldn’t offer the necessary return on the investment.

Local entrepreneur Eric Sklar is trying to force the issue. Sklar started Alpha Omega Winery in Napa, but now owns a cannabis cultivation and delivery company called Fumé just north in neighboring Lake County.

He commissioned polling last year that found a cultivation initiative would pass in Napa and collected enough signatures to place it on the March ballot. But he held off in hopes that the Napa County Board of Supervisors will write its own rules. Read More > at Politico

A Common Cough Syrup Drug Just Passed Another Trial as Parkinson’s Treatment – A drug first discovered over 50 years ago and long used as a medicine for coughs and respiratory illnesses appears to show promise in treating a very different kind of sickness: Parkinson’s disease.

Ambroxol, an active ingredient in cough mixtures since the 1970s, has been investigated in recent years for its apparent potential to halt the progression of Parkinson’s, and already this year, the drug has passed two important milestones that may bring us closer to a much-hoped-for treatment.

Last month, a multi-institutional team of researchers led by University College London (UCL) reported the results of a small Phase II clinical trial suggesting that ambroxol was safe and well-tolerated in human patients with Parkinson’s disease, while hinting at possible neuroprotective effects that need to be examined further in subsequent trials. Read More > at Science Alert

One Month Out, Watchdog Warns About Census IT and Cybersecurity Challenges – It’s less than a month until the federal government will start asking households across the country to complete the 2020 census questionnaire. But the Census Bureau is behind addressing IT and cybersecurity issues that could put the decennial survey at risk, according to a government watchdog report.

For the first time, the 2020 census will primarily rely on online responses rather than paper surveys. But the new technology supporting the effort brings new potential security risks.

Officials with the Government Accountability Office, which authored the report, laid out some of their security concerns last week during a congressional hearing.

The Census Bureau recently discovered that one of its systems designed to receive participants’ online survey responses was not able to handle 600,000 users at one time without experiencing performance issues. As a result of the detected issues, the bureau this month opted to switch to a backup system that could handle that many users.

The 2020 Census will be crucial in determining how hundreds of billions of federal dollars in about 300 programs are divided among states and localities in the years ahead, including those that provide money for highway construction, food stamps and health care for the elderly and the poor. An undercount of just 1% of the population could have dramatic implications for state coffers.  Read More > at Route Fifty

In California, Development Bills Are The ‘New Sexy.’ Here’s Why Housing Doesn’t Get Built – To many legislators, addressing California’s housing needs has become the latest hot item.

In Sacramento, there are hundreds of housing bills from various politicians examining ways the state could build more housing, especially affordable housing.

But some of them lack any clear and reasonable direction, housing experts said.

“The challenge for us is that there are so many bills that are being supported, it’s what I call the ‘new sexy’ for our legislators,” Innovative Housing Opportunities CEO Rochelle Mills said. “Everyone is throwing bills together and some of them are contradicting each other.”

While Mills applauds the efforts of state legislators and local politicians, she and others would like to see more focus on meeting the housing needs for everyone and not just the homeless or low-income.

“We [have] a housing crisis that includes the homeless, the missing middle [class] and special needs and other homeowners,” Mills said. “Let’s try to figure out how to get some or all of this going and get as much happening as fast as possible.”

…Gov. Gavin Newsom says he wants to see the production of 3.5 million units across the state by 2025. But that is unlikely, LaMotte said. If that were to happen, California would need to build at least 500,000 residential units per year. The state has never produced that many units in its history, LaMotte said.

Even if the governor lowered his goal to building 1.5 million housing units by 2025 or about 300,000 units a year, the state has only ever constructed that many units twice, once in the 1960s and again in the 1980s, LaMotte said.

“It’s just very, very difficult,” LaMotte said. “Development fees are high, political landscape, traffic is bad, parking is bad, we’re aging in place, we’re losing millennials, and there is a labor shortage … There’s a long list all contributing to what we are talking about today.”

At the moment, there is no viable solution in sight. One proposed solution, SB-50, an initiative that would would have allowed the development of multi-unit residential buildings on single-family lots near transit lines, did not garner enough support from the state Senate last month.

Mills said when it comes to building more housing, there are three key issues that politicians and decision-makers need to address to ramp up developments: streamlining the entitlement process; reforming CEQA or the California Environmental Quality Act, which educates local politicians, city officials and the public about the environmental impacts of a proposed development; and providing more tax credits. Read More > at Bisnow

What Happens to the U.S. Population If Immigration Rises Substantially or Halts Entirely? – U.S. population could increase from 323 million in 2016 to as high as 447 million by 2060—or fall as low as 320 million. It depends on how many immigrants are admitted over the next four decades, according to new report from the Census Bureau.

The report sketches out four scenarios for 2060. If current levels of immigration are maintained, the U.S. population will grow to 404 million by 2060. If immigration is cut in half, the population will rise to 376 million. If immigration increases by 50 percent, the population expands to 447 million. And if all immigration were to be halted now, the U.S. population would peak at around 332 million in 2035 and drop to 320 million in 2060.

In the high-immigration scenario, the proportion of foreign-born residents would rise by 2060 to 21.6 percent of the population. If immigration is halted, the forecast shows only 4.6 percent of the population in 2060 being foreign-born.

In all of the scenarios, the median age of the U.S. population rises from 37.9 to more than 40.

The report projects that the number of people identifying as “white alone”—that is, respondents who check only the white ethnicity box on census forms—will continue to rise in the main, high, and low immigration scenarios. This increase results from the Census Bureau’s expectation that the children of Hispanic immigrants will probably, like the children of Italian, Polish, Greek, and other earlier immigrant groups, choose to identify increasingly as white. But the share of the population in the white alone category will decline in each scenario, due to faster increases in the numbers of Americans in the other racial and ethnic groups. Read More > at Reason

Musicians and Music Professionals Become Latest Group Seeking AB 5 Exemptions – Over the course of a month, independent ‘gig’ musicians have gone from simply another group being affected by AB 5 to becoming one of the major groups about to break away from the law.

Independent musicians are hoping for either an exemption from AB 5, the law authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) that redefined more independent contractors as employees, or overturning the law entirely. Truckers have already gained an exemption under AB 5, while freelance journalists and photographers are close to receiving one as well. Rideshare companies, while also seeking an exemption, are currently trying to halt the entire law. A ballot measure to remove the law is also currently gathering signatures for a November referendum.

Senate Bill 811, authored by Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee), has been the major avenue for musician-based AB 5 exemptions. Introduced at the request of San Diego-based musicians earlier this month, SB 881 would go back to the definition of what a ‘gig-worker’ is, rather than AB 5’s new definition. Supporters say that the new definition would greatly limit the number of paid performances for musicians, would limit the amount of acts at live entertainment venues, and would cause hardships for thousands of musicians across the state who depend on doing multiple shows in different locations. Read More > at California Globe

Local governments are taking on Dollar Stores – Everyday, Americans file into their local Dollar Tree or Dollar General in search of dirt-cheap snacks, cleaning products, and school supplies. It may surprise them to learn that a growing number of researchers and local governments see their bargains as a public health concern.

But that’s the idea behind a crackdown on dollar stores catching on with local governments across the country. Research has pinpointed these chains as a cause of economic distress. Cities and counties now limiting their presence include DeKalb County, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama; Kansas City, Kansas; Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Mesquite and Fort Worth, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; and New Orleans.

Discount stores have always attracted their share of blight, which sparks opposition from resident groups. But its their contribution to the problem of “food deserts” that has sparked this latest round of regulation.

“Behind the sudden disdain for these retailers—typically discount variety stores smaller than 10,000 square feet—are claims by advocacy groups that they saturate poor neighborhoods with cheap, over-processed food, undercutting other retailers and lowering the quality of offerings in poorer communities,” writes Steven Malanga, Senior Editor at City Journal. At first glance, that argument seems persuasive. But Malanga points out that the popularity of discount chains is being driven in part by affluent households. Moreover, a number of studies have challenged what we think we know about why people make unhealthy food choices in the first place.

The food desert concern also overlooks some of the most popular items being sold at dollar stores. Bargain chains, for instance, have become popular with teachers who buy classroom supplies out of pocket. Still, as DeKalb Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson says, “we don’t need them on every corner.”

Today, there are more dollar stores than Walmarts or Costcos. Read More > at California City News 

California wine prices may drop to lowest in 20 years – The price of wine is at an all-time low because of an abundance of grapes, according to a new report from the Silicon Valley Bank Financial Group.

The State of U.S. Wine Industry 2020 report said wine prices could reach the lowest in 20 years. Some are calling it good news for wine drinkers.

Growers in Northern California began planting thousands of acres of new vines in 2016 with bountiful harvests of grapes, but the surplus of grapes goes to waste.

The farm bureau said some growers are choosing to leave grapes on the vine because it would cost more to produce.

According to the report, the oversupply of grapes isn’t a reflection of the quality of the wine, but that the wine industry is “increasingly missing the mark on consumer expectations.”

“Our current oversupply in California and Washington isn’t due to speculative overplanting. It’s due to the wine industry’s growing miss in not providing consumers what they want,” the report outlines. “That’s not an adverse statement about the quality of what our industry produces. We’ve never made better wine. But based on the industry’s current results, making great wine isn’t good enough for the consumer today.” Read More > at KCRA

It Takes Less Than 30 Days to Compost a Human Body – In a small trial of deceased volunteers, a Seattle-based company called Recompose demonstrates that its method for “natural organic reduction” of a human body completely breaks down soft tissue.

In less than a month, six dead people became dirt, according to results presented yesterday (February 16) at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle. The trial, run by Seattle-based company Recompose, the first-ever human composting company, set out to test the effectiveness of its technique and ensure that the resulting soil product met Environmental Protection Agency safety standards for heavy metals and other contaminants.

Last year, Washington became the first state to legalize this practice of human composting. Katrina Spade, Recompose’s founder and chief executive officer, tells the BBC that compared with cremation or traditional burial, the process of composting a body—or “natural organic reduction,” as Recompose calls it—can avoid the atmospheric release of nearly one-and-a-half tons of carbon and therefore is a motivating factor for people concerned about climate change. Compared with traditional burial, composting avoids the risk that formaldehyde and other embalming agents will leach into groundwater and eliminates the land space needed for coffins. Read More > in TheScientist

States Need to Answer for Stubbornly High Electricity Bills – While fuel prices are plummeting, electricity prices are staying stubbornly high. This is bad news particularly for tens of millions of low-income Americans. It also puts an unnecessary drag on economic growth.

Natural gas prices, as measured by the benchmark Henry Hub Natural Gas Spot Price, have fallen nearly 50 percent since the end of 2017. And yet according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American family paid 4 percent more per kilowatt hour of electricity in November 2019, the most recent period for which information is available, than in December 2017.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, low income families spend 8.6 percent of their income on energy, three times more than non-low-income households. And it hurts.

September 2018 study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found one in five American households goes without food or medicine at least once a year to stay warm in the winter or cool in the summer. Seven million households face this decision nearly every month.

…Massachusetts, for example, gets 67 percent of its electricity from natural gas. Yet, since December 2017 to November 2019 (the most recent period for which information is available), the average retail price of electricity rose 11 percent for a Massachusetts family, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. California, which gets more than 40 percent of its electricity from natural gas saw a 9 percent increase. New York, with nearly 40 percent of its electricity from natural gas, saw a 6 percent increase.

And, in each of these states, the price of electricity was already a minimum of 36 percent above the national average in December 2017. Thus, these above average price hikes come from an above average base. Read More > at Real Clear Energy

Secession in the Pacific Northwest? Some Oregon residents petition to join Idaho – Frustrated by liberal policies, some Oregon residents are petitioning to leave the state –by moving the border with Idaho westward.

The movement has secured initial approval from two counties and aims to get enough signatures to put the proposal on local ballots in November, said the group Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho.

If the group succeeds, voters in southeast Oregon may see a question on whether their county should become part of Idaho by redrawing the border.

“Rural counties have become increasingly outraged by laws coming out of the Oregon Legislature that threaten our livelihoods, our industries, our wallet, our gun rights, and our values,” Mike McCarter, one of the chief petitioners, said in a press release. “We tried voting those legislators out but rural Oregon is outnumbered and our voices are now ignored. This is our last resort.” Read More > at USA Today

5G Explained: What Government Leaders Should Know – The newest generation in wireless networking represents a major boost in both capacity and speed, opening the door to transformative public services. But the technology is both costly and controversial even as states and localities begin to legislate and regulate around 5G.

5G is the fifth generation of wireless networking technology used in cellular networks. The first commercial rollout of 5G occurred in 2019. Deployment is expected to begin in earnest in 2020, increasing the need for governments to anticipate what lies ahead.

5G will bring the biggest generational advance to date in network speed, but will require new phones and devices with new chips.

More and more devices, consuming more and more data, can strain bandwidth, slow services and drop connections. In the U.S., 5G will use a band of the radio spectrum that has never before been used for cellular data networks: high-frequency radio waves the length of millimeters rather than centimeters. This wide open “road” will accommodate more data and reduce delays in data transfer (latency) even in peak use hours. 4G towers were designed to support approximately 6,500 devices per square mile, whereas 5G can support upwards of 1 million devices in the same area.

Tapping 5G’s potential does not come without complications. There are a number of reasons why both governments and citizens might be reluctant to embrace it.

More Towers — The range of 5G towers is about 1,000 feet, less than 2 percent of the range of 4G network towers. This means that hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of new towers will be needed. The “towers,” which are small boxes with wireless antennas, will be densely deployed throughout cities. Many will be placed on public infrastructure such as streetlamps, traffic lights and utility poles and even under manhole covers. This will create permitting challenges.

Local Control Over 5G Deployment — Cities have sued both the FCC and state government agencies to retain their ability to control and regulate 5G towers. Dozens of cities are engaged in a legal battle with the FCC to retain control over what they charge telecommunication providers for access to city-owned infrastructure. Aesthetic objections from residents can also be expected.

Network Access — Not every device can access 5G. As of February 2020, there are only six phones available in the U.S. that can leverage the new 5G spectrum. Read More > at Governing

Opinion: The 5G rollout is already behind, and coronavirus could slow it even more – The slow 5G network rollout was already causing confusion and disappointment for tech investors, but a sudden sickness has made it worse.

Analysts at Omdia, a global technology research firm, said as the coronavirus spreads through tech’s global supply chains, it is impacting the diverse yet interconnected sectors of the electronics industry. But especially hard hit will be products related to 5G, because it is in the throes of starting up.

“With the epidemic arriving at dawn of 5G’s mainstream deployment phase, the coronavirus has the potential to disrupt the progress of the next-generation wireless standard, as the crisis slows or threatens to slow the production of key smartphone components, including displays and semiconductors,” Omdia analysts wrote last week.

“We believe that China will take a significant position in the 5G era in both supply and demand of devices and network-wise,” Omdia analyst Jusy Hong said in an email interview. “The coronavirus outbreak will slow down production of network equipment and devices. Also, the outbreak is depressing the local economy of China and this will freeze smartphone demand in the country.” Read More > at MarketWatch

About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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