Light poles will be used to address increased data usage

Bismarck, ND – New technology is coming to Bismarck to help support everything you do on your smartphones and other devices.

Verizon Wireless says the amount of data used last year doubled from 2015. Tuesday night, the city commission approved a deal with Verizon Wireless to prepare for that rising number.

Ordinary street lights around Bismarck could change soon.

“I believe that Bismarck will be the first to have this in the state,” City engineer Gabe Schell said.

The city agreed to allow Verizon Wireless to put what it calls “small cell technology” on dozens of light poles around town.

“This idea came about by Verizon contacting us saying they want to have some of these things in the public right of way,” Schell said.

KX News spoke to someone with Verizon to find out why this is needed. A company spokeswoman said 10 trillion MB of data were used last year by all wireless customers. That is the equivalent of streaming 15 million Netflix movies each day. And that number is double what it was in 2015.

“The goal of this is to be able to handle the increased needs these wireless carriers will find from their bandwidth,” Schell said.

And Verizon will do most of the work.

“Through this process, They’ll identify where they want to have the structure. We’ll coordinate with them and approve that. They’ll actually take that light out and remove it and bring back in a different light that is designed to handle the loading from the street light and their equipment that will be on top of it,” Schell added.

Verizon Wireless will pay the city $150 per pole per year and it hopes to do this to about 30 or so light poles. It hopes to have this done by the end of next year.

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