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5G: Amplifying or Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide?

January 7, 2019
5G, the fifth generation of wireless communications, has the potential to make the opportunity cost of rural living much larger, maybe insurmountably so.

The centuries-long move from rural areas and small towns to large cities is an excellent example of opportunity costs. As career opportunities and amenities have grown in cities, so too have the implicit costs of remaining in small towns, leading more and more people to flock to the nearest metropolis. 5G, the fifth generation of wireless communications, has the potential to make this opportunity cost of rural living much larger, maybe insurmountably so. That’s because 5G is tailor-made for cities: it does not involve large, wide-broadcasting towers, but instead requires hundreds of small, wired antennae just to cover a single town or city. All that infrastructure will still see excellent net returns in areas where thousands of people will harness the benefits, but what about in a town of a few hundred people?

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