Sen. Thune discusses 5G expansion with West River leadership

RAPID CITY, S.D. – In Rapid City Thursday, Sen. John Thune sat down with local business leaders at Ascent Innovation to discuss multiple topics, including the expansion of 5G cellular data.

Thune spoke of the benefits of the internet service like precision agriculture, distance learning, and telehealth. While the benefits can be vast, when will West River South Dakotans begin to reap the benefits?

In November, Verizon partnered with Sioux Falls to launch the service and Rapid City is looking for a similar partnership.

“The city is very interested in working in a way that makes it easier and not harder and less expensive to get these companies to make these types of investments,” said Thune.

Rapid City signed a 15-year agreement with Verizon in July but not for 5G technology. Officials say discussions continue with AT&T in trying to bring the new technology our way. Thune says talks also continue with T-Mobile as part of terms for their merger with Sprint.

“One of the reasons they got approved by the FCC when it came to the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile was a commitment to build out in rural areas,” said Thune. “We want to hold them to that and that’s why they mentioned the possibility as they look at carrier and partners, that they are folks that are in the conversation.”

Some officials at the meeting say they don’t care who brings the 5G, they just want it here and the capabilities to follow, not just for agriculture, education, and health, but for businesses to stay competitive with evolving cities across the country.

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