Bipartisan legislation was signed this week, Senate Bill 1451, which will standardize and streamline regulation of small wireless cell facilities, paving the way for 5G wireless and other technology in Illinois.
“This legislation sends a strong, competitive message that Illinois is open for business. We want to make Illinois a leader in wireless technology. We are working to grow jobs and our economy and set our community up for future success,” Governor Bruce Rauner said.
Small cells are lower-profile wireless signal alternatives to traditional cell towers that can be attached to existing structures. Their deployment will help lay the foundation required to support the technologies of the future, such as the next generation wireless systems known as 5G.
Besides faster internet and devices, Accenture has forecast that 5G and smart cities investments will create nearly 100,000 jobs and bring in nearly $9 billion in investment to Illinois over the next seven years.
“I’m glad that we were able to work in a collaborative and bipartisan way to meet the growing public demand for improved technology that will assist consumers and business development, while making us competitive with neighboring states,” said Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy).
Wireless demand is expected to increase five times by 2022.
“This legislation will benefit businesses, employers and job seekers throughout our state, while providing valuable services for our citizens. Wireless technology is essential for small and start-up businesses that are the core of our economy. We are happy the Governor and the General Assembly made this step forward for our community,” said President & CEO of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce Larry D. Ivory.
Small cell technology will help provide Illinoisans with faster download speeds, improved call quality and support Telemedicine, connected cars, distance learning, smart homes, smart farms and Smart Cities, creating a more connected network across the state.
“Innovative and life changing technologies coming from shop floors across Illinois play a central role in creating manufacturing jobs and maintaining our competitive advantage in the global marketplace,” said Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of the Illinois Manufacturers Association Mark Denzler. “We applaud Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers who recognize that manufacturing is very technology-infused and technology-driven today. This new law will keep Illinois on the leading edge and provide opportunities for manufacturers to compete in the current period of innovation known as Industry 4.0.”
The bill will also help improve wireless service in areas where large cell towers are not the best solution.
“This is about communities across Illinois – ensuring they have access to cutting edge technology and equal opportunity to compete for jobs in tomorrow’s economy,” said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Todd Maisch.
The bill still ensures local governments retain their role and authority in the permitting process of telecommunications equipment by allowing them to exercise their zoning, land use, planning, and permitting authorities within their territorial boundaries, including with respect to wireless support structures and utility poles.
"Illinois retailers need next generation telecommunications infrastructure to provide the customized offerings and services our customers expect. The same infrastructure other states and much of the world already enjoys,” said President & CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association Rob Karr. “This legislation makes that possible and propels Illinois into the 21st Century. We applaud Governor Rauner and the members of the General Assembly for making this possible.”
Texas, Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont have already passed similar technology legislation.
The Illinois bill will compensate local governments at a higher rate than any other state’s small cell law.