Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
(Updated 11/06/22 at 11:40 p.m.) Ballston-based Federated Wireless is moving its corporate headquarters to Crystal City — and it is bringing 5G connectivity with it.
The move marks the next step developer JBG Smith is taking to turn the area into the world’s first large-scale “Smart City,” with futuristic experiences such as self-driving cars and virtual reality powered by a speedy wireless network.
Federated Wireless, currently located at 4075 Wilson Blvd, will occupy approximately 36,000 square feet of office space at 2121 Crystal Drive, per a press release from property owner and developer JBG Smith.
This building is home to aerospace company Lockheed Martin and a park, as well as a forthcoming restaurant called “Surreal.”
As part of the move, the wireless services company will design, deploy and manage 5G Private Wireless networks for commercial tenants and residents living and working in JBG Smith’s offices and apartments in Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard (known collectively as National Landing).
The area is saturated with companies that need what private 5G provides: high-speed data and few communication delays. National Landing’s roster includes Amazon’s second headquarters, Boeing’s recently relocated global headquarters, Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and numerous tech, defense and cybersecurity companies.
“We will be developing a showcase to demonstrate the power and cutting-edge capability that Private Wireless can bring defense contractors, government, retail clients, residential tenants, smart cities, and other customers and citizens in the area,” Federated Wireless Chief Commercial Officer Chris Swan said in a statement.
That could draw more innovative companies to the area, too.
JBG Smith has said its “smart city” would be replete with Internet-connected devices supporting futuristic experiences such as self-driving vehicles, immersive and augmented reality, building automation and environmental sustainability.
The company already had expansive real estate holdings, from existing office space and apartments to developable land, to realize this goal — but it needed the technology to do so.
Over the last two years, it has assembled the radio frequencies and fiber networks needed to support the vision.
In 2020, JBG purchased seven blocks of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum from the Federal Communications Commission. In 2021, it announced partnerships with AT&T and Arlington County to bring about ubiquitous indoor and outdoor public 5G in 2021.
And now, Federated Wireless is providing a third piece to the puzzle.
“Cloud, Edge, and [Internet of Things] combined with 5G Private Wireless represent a once in a generation opportunity to transform buildings, cities, and citizens’ experience. The game-changer here is that the 5G Private Wireless network we’re building with JBG Smith is the catalyst that will bring that reality to life in National Landing,” Federated Wireless CEO Iyad Tarazi said in a statement.
“Our partnership with JBG Smith is all about enabling shared spectrum solutions to power the next generation of connected businesses, cities and people,” he added.
(Updated, 4:40 p.m.) Loose steel plates on Columbia Pike that are keeping residents up at night with the sounds of cars driving over them are the work of a general contractor doing 5G work.
The same contractor also damaged a gas line on the Pike causing a large gas leak last week, according to Washington Gas.
The plates were recently installed on the 1800 block of Columbia Pike, prompting complaints from residents who say that they are rattling and banging loudly when passing vehicles drive on them. The plates are the result of work done by contractor Crown Castle, a spokesperson for the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services tells ARLnow.
“We’ve determined those annoyingly loud plates on Columbia Pike to be the work of a 5G contractor,” spokesperson Peter Golkin tells ARLnow. “Our Construction Management and Permits folks have been investigating and will work to get the plates secured and end the racket as soon as possible.”
The racket was first brought to both ARLnow’s and the county’s attention by rattled citizens on social media.
Hey @ArlingtonDES How long do we have to listen to the banging of cars on the steel plates in the 1800 block of #Columbiapike ? #upallnight #thataintright @ARLnowDOTcom
— J. F. (@vtmathteacher) December 12, 2021
Crown Castle blames the rattling steel plates on a general contractor working for the telecom infrastructure company. The steel plates have since been removed and replaced it with asphalt, a company spokesperson has confirmed to ARLnow.
“Crown Castle continues to expand our infrastructure in Arlington to provide connectivity to the community. One of Crown Castle’s general contractors was conducting work to support network enhancements for our enterprise and wireless customers, including 5G,” wrote a company spokesperson. “The temporary steel plate has been removed and has been replaced with asphalt. Final restoration will be completed in the coming weeks as we coordinate with the county and account for holiday schedules.”
Washington Gas tells ARLnow that the contractor is also responsible for damaging a gas line near S. Scott Street during the course of this work. That resulted in Columbia Pike between Quinn Street and S. Walter Reed Drive being shut down for several hours.
“Washington Gas recently conducted repair work to a natural gas line that was damaged by a third party contractor on Columbia Pike,” a spokesperson for the natural gas provider wrote.
Crown Castle confirmed to ARLnow that its general contractor damaged the gas line.
“We coordinated with Washington Gas and the county to quickly address and repair the situation and restore service,” the spokesperson wrote.
A short distance away from the newly-repaired gas line, the rattling steel plates remained until at least Friday afternoon, when an ARLnow photographer observed the scene. While there, the photographer saw that crews had removed some of the plates to continue work below.
DES said at the time that it was investigating and asking the contractor to fix and secure the plates as well as lower the noise level in general. Golkin said the county appreciates the outreach from residents.
“We want [to] thank the nearby residents for alerting the County directly and through social media,” he said.
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.
Federated Wireless is using its proprietary private 5G solution to make a Marine Corps Logistics Base in Georgia smarter.
The company says it was able to make it happen because of its physical location in Arlington, close to the Pentagon. From its Ballston office at 4075 Wilson Blvd, Federated Wireless conducted in-person demonstrations and briefings with Department of Defense leaders during the pandemic, when travel was down.
“Being located in Arlington has really been a benefit to Federated Wireless,” Vice President and General Manager Sal D’Itri said. “We won a huge contract to implement our technology along with some marquee partners at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany because of our headquarter presence close to the Pentagon and its leaders. We’ve been able to cultivate those relationships as we build the business.”
This past January, it deployed its solution at the base. The improved connectivity supports innovations such as precision forklifts, smart sensors and robots, and automated inventory management, making manual inventory and manual work inside the warehouse a thing of the past.
“This is one of the largest smart warehouse deployments of private 5G networks in the United States,” D’Itri said.
The 5G being used in Georgia provides persistent communication — also known as low latency — to spectrum networks that goes way beyond what’s available to ordinary cellphone users. D’Itri says the warehouse needs this low latency in order to support sensors, robots and machines without the interruptions and network slow-downs cellphone users occasionally experience.
“It’s a technology that’s really geared for enterprises,” he said. “We can have the low-latency that we need for robotics. We have the capacity for things we need, like holographic Internet of Things representations and augmented reality.”
Federated Wireless is growing as governments and enterprises worldwide increasingly focus on harnessing innovative 5G networks.
“5G is on every ad and every commercial now,” D’Itri said. “Our business is growing with that, particularly as we look at 5G networks that are targeting enterprises, school districts and communities that want to have a private, secure network that is more oriented to applications, as opposed to merely a carrier network” such as AT&T or Verizon.
He says Federated Wireless’s private 5G solution is made possible through its “shared spectrum controller.” In the U.S. today, spectrum is either assigned to the federal government or auctioned to carriers like AT&T. Federated Wireless uses its proprietary controller to share unused spectrum with private companies, powering reliable, private 5G networks.
With that kind of power, D’Itri says companies can not only experience greater connectivity without being tied to a specific carrier but can create “next-generation experiences” such as holographs or virtual reality.
Using its ability to share spectrum, Federated Wireless is also looking to tackle another area that large businesses and equipment manufacturers heavily rely on: WiFi.
“When you add spectrum to WiFi, you help relieve congestion and deploy more of it to stay connected,” D’Itri said. “[Consumers] would have better WiFi connectivity and more capacity.”
With these developments, D’Itri says Federated Wireless is having to grow its local presence over the next several years.
“We certainly are planning to continue hiring our Arlington office,” he said. “We have a wonderful facility here, growing the Arlington ecosystem and hiring Arlington folks, and bringing business into Arlington.”
Since August, JBG Smith has been assembling the bones needed to turn part of Arlington and Alexandria into the world’s first large-scale “Smart City.”
And today (Tuesday), the developer is set to cinch two crucial parts of the skeleton. This morning, it announced a partnership with AT&T to install 5G network throughout Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, collectively known as National Landing.
“The goal of this collaboration with AT&T is to further enhance National Landing and create the only neighborhood that provides entrepreneurs, universities, and global technology companies the digital infrastructure necessary to shape the future of their industries,” JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly said.
This evening, the County Board is poised to grant access to the backbone of the network: currently unused, county-owned dark fiber assets. The county would receive $3.5 million in exchange.
The speedy wireless network could draw more innovative companies to the area and help bring futuristic experiences — such as self-driving vehicles, immersive and augmented reality, building automation and environmental sustainability — to fruition, according to their press release.
Parts of the 5G network could be operational in the first half of 2022, JBG Smith Smart Cities Vice President Vardahn Chaudhry tells ARLnow.
“5G is complex in that it requires robust underlying digital infrastructure both underground and across the built environment,” he said. “JBG Smith and AT&T are still working through the details of the infrastructure deployments and will share more in the coming months.”
The real estate company made its ambitions known last August, when it acquired seven blocks of Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum spanning Arlington and Alexandria through a national Federal Communications Commission auction.
Still missing the underground network backbone, JBG Smith eyed Arlington County’s unused fiber optic assets in National Landing, from when the county built a ring of dark fiber nearly 10 miles long called ConnectArlington.
The network was designed to support county government and Arlington Public Schools and give local businesses access to cheaper, higher-speed internet, but an ARLnow investigation found legal issues made it difficult for businesses to use it.
County staff recommend the County Board approve the 75-year agreement with JBG Smith, which is planning to market National Landing — home to Amazon’s HQ2 — as an “Innovation District.”
“Consistent with the intent of the original ConnectArlington investment, the primary benefit of this Agreement will be to assist in the creation of an Innovation District that will establish the area as a magnet for human talent and innovation — the key driver of economic prosperity today and moving forward,” according to the report.
JBG Smith said it already possess other things needed for the project: expansive real estate holdings, from existing office space and apartments to developable land, which provides the buildings, street furniture and underground infrastructure needed for the roll-out.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said he is thrilled to see two private-sector organizations leading the 5G charge.
“American competitiveness in the deployment of 5G networks — and innovation in the emerging technologies [that] 5G unlocks — remain key to our national and economic security interest,” he said. “This collaboration can be a blueprint for how digital infrastructure is deployed, and I am heartened by the prospects of the innovation this may unlock to advance our country’s competitiveness globally.”
County staff valued the transfer at $3.5 million after weighing how much it would need to recoup construction costs and advance county goals against how much it would cost JBG Smith to build its own assets.
Fiber rights transferred to JBGS are for 75 years plus a 24-year extension option
Arl staff basically say they have no clue how much this transaction should be valued, but they settled on $3.5mil pic.twitter.com/YIgeW0YR21
— Stephen Repetski (@srepetsk) July 19, 2021
New renderings from JBG Smith envision Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard as a lush urban core with glassy high-rises and connected by a surface-level Route 1, along with Metro and commuter rail.
When all of the developer’s projects are delivered, that is.
JBG Smith released an investor relations video explaining its plans for the area — known collectively as National Landing — which include building a number of new apartment and office buildings and partnering with local and state governments to improve transit and technological infrastructure.
“We’ve been incredibly busy during the pandemic, teeing up growth opportunities, delivering new assets, we have a lot of exciting growth in the next 18 months,” JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly said in the video.
He said about 15 million square feet are under development in National Landing, two-thirds of which are multifamily residential — apartment buildings, mostly. Other big projects include the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2, which the video said is on track to be done in 2023, and the second phase, which includes the proposed Helix building.
“All of these developments are on vacant land or replacing out-of-service buildings,” said Chief Development Officer Kai Reynolds.
One of those is the former Americana Hotel, which JBG Smith purchased in December for more than $27 million, Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development Kristi Smith said.
JBG Smith views this site, planned for an apartment building, “as one of the best development opportunities in National Landing,” given its proximity to HQ2 and its visibility from Route 1, she said.
The video provided updates on the following residential developments, which collectively would add thousands of new apartments to the area:
- 1900 Crystal Drive, two towers with a total of 808 units
- 2000 and 2001 S. Bell Street, 338 and 420 units, respectively
- 2250 Crystal Drive, 825 units
- 223 23rd Street S., 700 units
Construction started on 1900 Crystal Drive in late March and could be completed in 2024, according to the video. Meanwhile, the earliest start date for 2000 and 2001 S. Bell Street, which received County Board approval last month, is later this year.
Both 2250 Crystal Drive and 223 23rd Street S. have a potential start date of 2023, the video said.
The developer also plans to build 750,000 square feet of office space at 2525 Crystal Drive in the form of two V-shaped towers, according to the video.
Reynolds highlighted the pending changes to Route 1, which could result in lowering the highway to grade and transforming it into more of an urban boulevard. The changes are part of an incentive agreement between Amazon and Virginia to invest $5 billion in important infrastructure improvements, he said.
“Amongst the most critical was the lowering of the elevated sections of Route 1, which currently runs north-south within National Landing,” he said. “The new road will feature a modern cross-section that will be pedestrian-friendly to improve walkability within the submarket.”
They show at-grade Route 1 a few times in its 7-lane form. They exclusively use “will” in referring to it. They do not talk about the BID’s Mag Mile vision for the corridor though. pic.twitter.com/MZykKtWQXz
— Car-Free HQ2 (@CarFreeHQ2) May 26, 2021
The long boi in the foreground is the ~550,000 sq ft residential they plan for the defunct Americana Motel site. Note the at-grade Route 1/15th intersection, and HQ2 Part Un looming in the background. pic.twitter.com/8iUu5iTtU5
— Car-Free HQ2 (@CarFreeHQ2) May 26, 2021
As for other transit improvements, Reynolds said the second Crystal City Metro station entrance, a public-private partnership between Arlington County and JBG Smith, could be completed between 2023 and 2024.
Meanwhile, progress could move forward on a new Virginia Railway Express station in National Landing, as the state recently finalized a $3.7 billion plan with CSX, Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express.
The new station will be built on land owned by JBG Smith. It will also serve as a connection point for the planned pedestrian bridge to Reagan National Airport, renderings of which are seen in the video.
The Bethesda-based developer also has plans for increasing technological connectivity, too.
Adam Rashid, the Senior Vice President and Co-Head of Smart Cities for JBG Smith, said the company aims to deploy “ubiquitous 5G in National Landing, with the goal of making National Landing the U.S.’s first 5G Smart City at-scale.”
Photos via JBG Smith/Vimeo
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.
All eyes — and phones — are trained on the rollout of 5G.
The next generation of mobile internet service promises higher data rates, meaning more people will be able to access the internet simultaneously and enjoy, among other things, higher quality videos and faster download speeds.
Telecommunications companies can either buy new, custom 5G hardware or install 5G servers on existing cell phone infrastructure. Many companies are opting to use servers because they are cheaper and more flexible than buying hardware, according to Jim Shea, the co-founder and CEO of the Rosslyn-based startup DeepSig (1201 Wilson Blvd).
How these servers run, however, could be improved, Shea said.
His startup is looking to make these servers run smarter, not harder, using machine learning, or artificial intelligence (AI). DeepSig is currently testing a solution, which would be a simple software upgrade for these servers, in its Rosslyn lab.
The software could have political and environmental consequences for the rollout of 5G, Shea said. It is a goal DeepSig has been working toward since it was founded four years ago.
“I call this the inflection point,” he said.
DeepSig has been working with a number of government organizations and private companies, trying to raise enough money to launch the lab and hire the staff needed to develop this smart software. It finally launched the lab in March.
“We’ve been building toward this,” Shea said. “It takes a long time, but once you can prove your product is valuable, you can scale rapidly. This lab is key to us getting our tech out there.”
Currently, phones are constantly seeking a good cell connection and telling local wireless network hubs, called “base stations,” when the connection is bad. In that case, the base stations may increase power to improve the signal quality.
Using DeepSig’s software, the 5G servers will repurpose the information coming from cell phones to understand the station’s surroundings and what may impact signal quality.
For example, Shea said near his WeWork office, the cell signal bounces off Rosslyn’s tall buildings. Using AI, the 5G server could learn how the signal interacts with buildings and harness these patterns to improve signal quality without having to resort to ramping up the power.
“That’s what we’re proving out with the AI lab,” Shea said. “We know of large industrial partners who are excited about our tech. By June or July, we’ll be making calls through our labs and inviting people to come and see the tech at work.”
The software improves the 5G server’s performance without ramping up the power, which Shea said is better for the environment.
“Everyone’s worried about global warming,” he said. “Our software reduces energy consumption.”
Ultimately, Shea said the goal is to also get DeepSig’s technology embedded into American-made 5G hardware.
Currently, American mobile providers can choose from three of the four major hardware providers, all outside of the U.S.: Finland’s Nokia, Sweden’s Ericsson or South Korea’s Samsung. (Telecom companies cannot work with the Chinese company Huawei over data privacy concerns.)
Shea said DeepSig’s tech will help make American-produced hardware competitive in the marketplace.
“The problem in the U.S. is that we don’t have a domestic [5G] industry,” he said. “We hope to be part of the group that gets the U.S. to rehome this technology back here. There’s a lot of interest in the government to get that to happen.”
Photo courtesy DeepSig
Local business development leaders say Arlington can compete with the emerging tech hubs of Austin and Miami.
Those cities are attracting some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and companies in search of a lower cost of living and doing business. Last year, Austin made deals with 39 companies, and Miami saw an influx of venture capital dollars and firms.
But local cheerleaders of Arlington in general — and National Landing in particular — say the area is on par with these hubs because it has an educated workforce, plenty of office space, Amazon’s HQ2, continuous 5G service, and recruiting opportunities from area universities.
“I would love for our government leaders to be talking more aggressively about this,” said Ken Biberaj, a managing director of commercial real estate company Savills, during a recent panel discussion about National Landing, hosted by Arlington Economic Development. “I think they should be on TV every single day talking about why they should be coming here.”
The suggestion is that Arlington needs someone like charismatic Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who is leading a campaign to attract businesses and support tech entrepreneurs. Suarez is noted for regularly speaking with CEOs who have chosen Miami.
So, does Arlington and National Landing compare to those two buzzy, sunny locales? Aside from the weather, some real estate analysts say yes.
“I think definitely the pieces are there and having Amazon as an asset is a really great thing,” said Eric Maribojoc, the Director of the Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship at the George Mason University School of Business.
Like Austin, Arlington also has the “urban-like” amenities that could attract companies, he added.
With its talent base and focus on regulatory tech and cybersecurity companies, Northern Virginia as a whole has already achieved parity, said Phil Ryan, the Director of Research at commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).
“You need to grow more in the ‘flashier’ tech, for lack of a better word,” he said of the region. “I think National Landing is trying to get [better] at the visibility. People think Austin is techy because they’re louder about it.”
Although Arlington’s key tech sectors — cloud, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence — are not as consumer-facing as a Facebook or a Tesla, those sectors could drive tech growth in the region as JLL predicts they will flourish under President Joe Biden.
Ryan cautioned against seeing the reports of migration to Austin, Miami and elsewhere as proof that Silicon Valley is experiencing a brain drain. Although some tech workers may want a lifestyle change and to avoid higher California income taxes, most are staying in the Bay Area while back-office operations and executive suites are relocated.
Although Northern Virginia checks companies’ boxes for talent, education systems and transit connectivity, it has been “sold short,” Ryan said. Despite being a business-friendly state with relatively moderate taxes , Virginia has to compete with Texas and Florida’s lack of income tax while vying for corporate relocations against — rather than in cooperation with — D.C. and Maryland.
“For years, [it] was considered a big problem that there wasn’t one unified agency to get people into the area,” Ryan said.
Still, Arlington is nabbing and retaining businesses, making 24 deals in 2020, Arlington Economic Development reports.
Fall Officially Starts Today — “While many of us think of the first day of fall as a full calendar day, the equinox itself is a rather fleeting astronomical event. It happens at a precise moment when the sun’s direct rays are straight over Earth’s equator. This year’s equinox is at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time on Sept. 22.” [Capital Weather Gang]
JBG Acquires Local 5G Radio Spectrum — “JBG Smith Properties has paid $25.3 million for licenses to use small parts of a new class of wireless spectrum to set up a 5G internet network in National Landing, home to Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters and Virginia Tech’s innovation campus.” [Washington Business Journal, Press Release]
County Board Challenger Amps Up Rhetoric — “Is Arlington’s political ruling elite a bunch of preening political poseurs unwilling to do the heavy lifting of implementing a truly progressive agenda for the community? That somewhat uncharitable (and decidedly paraphrased here) assessment comes from Audrey Clement, the perennial independent candidate for office who this year is facing off against County Board Chairman Libby Garvey.” [InsideNova]
County Launches New Data Portal — “Arlington County today unveiled a new Open Data Portal with several benefits and features that make it easier than ever to access and use Arlington data. The new portal, a centerpiece of the County’s Open Government Program, builds upon the first open data solution that launched in 2016.” [Arlington County]
Robbery Suspect Arrested in Pentagon City — “At approximately 3:36 p.m. on September 19, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect allegedly stole merchandise from a business without paying. Upon being confronted by loss prevention at the exit, the suspect allegedly brandished a knife, then fled on foot. The victim was not injured. Arriving officers located the suspect in the Pentagon City Metro, still in possession of stolen merchandise.” [Arlington County]
Postal Service Keeping Rosslyn Office — “The United States Postal Service has tacked on an additional 3 years to its office lease at the International Place building in Arlington, Virginia, but will give up one of its floors in the process.” [CoStar]
Dorsey’s Union Check ‘Lost in the Mail’ — “The $10,000 donation that cost Metro board member Christian Dorsey his position was returned to the agency’s largest union five months ago, but the check was never cashed — because it was lost in the mail, Dorsey and the union said.” [Washington Post]
Opioid Overdoses Rise in Arlington — “Since the start of the year, nine individuals have recovered from opioid overdoses following the deployment of Nasal Naloxone (also known as Narcan) by responding officers. This comes as the number of police investigated incidents involving opioids begins to rise, with fatal incidents now surpassing those reported in 2019.” [Arlington County]
Crash in Crystal City Last Night — “ACPD on scene of an overturned vehicle and downed tree on Route 1 at 20th Street S. Two people self-extricated from the vehicle, reported to be a black Mercedes.” [Twitter]
Arlington Man Facing Child Porn Charges — “An Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force investigation by federal, state and local agencies has resulted in the arrest of an Arlington man. Detectives arrested Christopher Morse, 51, and charged him with five counts of Possession of Child Pornography.” [Arlington County]
5G Antennas to Be Deployed on Light Poles — Updated at 9:10 a.m. — “We are excited to share that a new 5G streetlight pole prototype is on display in Courthouse (southwest corner of 14th Street North and North Courthouse Road) until Aug. 7. ” [Twitter, Arlington County]
Differing Views on Trail Widenings — “Some who oppose NoVA Parks’ proposed W&OD Trail widening in Arlington, support widening the northern section of the Mt. Vernon Trail. Longtime bicycle activist Allen Muchnick says the proposed Mt. Vernon Trail widening is not really comparable to NoVA Parks’ proposed W&OD widening for multiple reasons.” [Audrey Clement]
Va. Real Estate Market Heating Up — “According to the June 2020 Home Sales Report released by Virginia REALTORS, home sales in most regions of Virginia are rebounding, following spring’s slowdown due to COVID-19. There were 13,176 home sales statewide in June 2020, up 0.5% from a year ago and up nearly 30% over May 2020 sales.” [Press Release]
Flickr pool photo by Cyrus W.
Feds Looking for Facility for Migrants — The federal government “has kicked off a search for a site in Northern Virginia to host one of several planned shelters for unaccompanied minors, part of the Trump administration’s answer to the ongoing immigration challenge playing out along the nation’s southern border.” While Arlington is among the jurisdictions included in the search, it’s unclear if the county has any site that would suit the requirements, which include 2 acres of recreation space. [Washington Business Journal]
Verizon Launches 5G in Crystal City — Last week Verizon launched 5G “Ultra Wideband” wireless service in parts of D.C. and Arlington, including Crystal City and Reagan National Airport. [Verizon]
Arlington Among Best Places for Young Pros — The website SmartAsset just ranked Arlington the No. 15 “city” for young professionals, ahead of D.C. (#21) but well behind Sioux Falls, S.D. (#1). [Thrillist, SmartAsset]
Water Main Break Near Crystal City — S. Eads Street was closed between 31st Street S. and S. Glebe Road last night for a water main break. The break affected a 12-inch main near the bus depot. [Twitter, Twitter]]
ACPD to Mix and Mingle in Clarendon — “Arlington County Police Department’s Restaurant Liaison Unit invites members of the public to join us for Conversation with a Cop in Clarendon on August 29, 2019 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Faster wireless networks may be coming soon to a street near you, thanks to a new vote from the Arlington County Board.
The County Board approved an ordinance change to allow wireless carriers to install the small-cell technology needed to deploy 5G on public property. This paves the way for carriers to begin installing the necessary antenna systems on light poles throughout the county.
Board Chair Christian Dorsey said he was excited for 5G’s possibility to enhance emergency services by letting paramedics diagnose problems while still in the ambulance, and making it easier for people to connect with doctors through telehealth conferencing, among other new possibilities.
“To me it’s those kinds of things that make it worth our pursuing this,” he said. “Not for the faster speeds on our on our smart phone.”
The decision comes after a year of discussions in Arlington and state legislation from Richmond encouraging the technology.
Nate Wentland, the county’s chief business technology officer shared how the wireless technology is about 20 times faster than the current 4G networks, allows more people to connect to it, and would allow more Smart City technology like telehealth and autonomous vehicles.
Dorsey added that the “appreciated” the dozen residents who took to the podium to express concerns over possible health effects from exposure to the radiation.
“This is something that we have our eyes wide open about,” he said. “We want to measure the impact.”
Several residents criticized the plan during Tuesday night’s meeting out of concerns over possible health effects from the antenna radiation. Residents in neighboring jurisdictions have also raised concerns about the issue.
“We’re all basically guinea pigs,” said one resident.
“I don’t believe it’s unreasonable to ask the county how it plans to mitigate that risk,” said independent Board Candidate Audrey Clement.
But officials pushed back on the health concerns, saying that widely-accepted science finds no harmful effects from 5G technology. Wentland cited research from the FCC, the FDA, the CDC, and the American Cancer Institute that radiation from small cell technology is not known to be carcinogenic.
Board Member Erik Gutshall said that if new evidence arises demonstrating negative health effects from the technology the county “has the opportunity to protect ourselves and terminate [the license] with the public interest.”
Vendors (like AT&T or Verizon) that want to install the small cells will have to foot the $9,000 bill for the tech and the new pole, but Arlington County will own the pole. VDOT turned down proposal for traffic signals because of concerns about visibility.
Under the county’s listening agreement with cell carriers, the county will require radiation emission testing from a independent party for each pole 60 days after installation, and can request additional testing any time afterward. County Manager Mark Schwartz told residents that the data from these tests will be shared publicly.
Vendors will also have to sign a 10 year agreement with the county to install the tech, with the option of a five-year extension. Arlington will require them to pay a one-time $250 administrative fee to the state, an annual $270 fee to the county, and cover any utility costs.
“We are becoming a center for innovation and high technology with the advent of… Amazon coming here,” said Jonathan S. Adelstein who heads the Wireless Infrastructure Association and is a former FCC Commissioner.
“We need that capacity and residents here expect the highest quality of wireless services,” said Adelstein, who lives in Bellevue Forest. “I think it adds to property values here.”
The county has issued 75 permits allowing companies to install the antenna system on private property as of March 2019, per a staff presentation to the Board.