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Pennsylvania Pursues to Become Internet Powerhouse

shot of network cables and servers in a technology data center

Pennsylvania is laying the groundwork to become an internet powerhouse. The government recently signed two bills designed to increase data centre investments and 5G infrastructure deployments. One bill amending the tax code provides sales and use tax exemptions on data centre equipment, provided owners and operators meet certain payroll and investment criteria. The bill was designed to attract large-scale enterprise data centre development to the commonwealth.

Data centres must pay at least $1 million in compensation annually to employees at the certified data centre within four years. Also in those first four years, they must invest at least $75 million if they are located within counties with populations under 250,000 and at least $100 million in counties with a population over 250,000. Meanwhile, Virginia has offered a sales and use tax exemption for computer centres since 2017 and has created over 45,000 new jobs and leveraged $10 billion in private investment.

The implementation of new tax policies that leverage private investment and encourage private-sector job growth demonstrates Pennsylvania is stepping up its economic game and competing for high-wage technology jobs.

The governor also signed legislation making it easier for 5G infrastructure companies to install the small cell antennas the wireless technology needs to deliver high-speed internet that will power connected vehicles and other next-generation technology. The legislation creates statewide right-of-way guidelines for local governments, internet service providers and the companies building out 5G infrastructure with antennas typically attached to utility poles.

While it leaves approval power with local governments by letting them process application fees from infrastructure providers, it details how long a municipality has to reply to an application and what fees it can charge. It also limits the size of the equipment and requires companies to first consider mounting their small cell antennas on existing utility poles like traffic lights or street signs before asking to build a new pole.

The new law also speeds up the approval process. If a municipality fails to approve or deny a co-location application within 60 days or an application to install a new utility pole within 90 days, the application is automatically approved. This change is going to ignite entrepreneurship and technological innovation in the country in an unpredictable way.

The federal government has also been focusing on 5G infrastructure. As reported by OpenGov Asia, The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is asking researchers and entrepreneurs for information on developing a ubiquitous and robust 5G/ Internet-of-Things (IoT) Situational Awareness System (5i SAS). The system must enhance situational awareness of current platforms and identify potentially dangerous 5G components and internet-of-things devices.

Without a way to distinguish normal 5G and IoT conditions from suspicious environments, exploits on personnel or systems could go undetected and cyberattacks would be untraceable. As the introduction of 5G will enable billions of devices connected to the network with direct communication to one another, the development of a 5i SAS capability essential

For example, modified 5G smartphones could serve as 5i SAS devices because they are common in populated areas and already outfitted with a variety of sensors that could detect anomalous activity, such as irregular heartbeats, gunshots or explosions, extreme heat or changes in acceleration.

5G-enabled devices could also be enlisted to detect suspicious electromagnetic activity in secure facilities, jamming or interference on 5G or IoT channels, unexplained device downgrades from 5G to 3G, sudden radiofrequency energy spikes that can harm personnel as well as rogue networks.

Although the request for the technology has been made on behalf of CISA, other federal and state, local, tribal and territorial governments may need to use it. If enough 5i SAS devices are issued, they could not only detect unhealthy/insecure situations, they could also triangulate the physical location of suspicious IoT and 5G devices, or jamming sources or anomalous network behaviour.

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