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Panda Express lends rooftops to 5G expansion

5G provider Kroo plans to expand its cellular network by leveraging commercial real estate.
Panda Express unit
5G provider Kroo said the 2,400-unit chain has rooftops "well suited" to network expansion./Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Panda Express is planning to leverage the rooftops of its restaurants to expand 5G connectivity.

The parent to the Rosemead, Calif.-based restaurant chain said last week it has signed a multi-year agreement with Kroo, a 5G provider, to help expand the 5G network. The agreement will allow the restaurants to provide 5G cell service to guests and surrounding neighbors.

The Federal Communications Commission in 2019 opened up the ability to build a wireless network without a spectrum license in a move designed to close the “digital divide,”or unequal access to technology, particularly in rural areas. Kroo works with real estate owners to leverage rooftops suitable for cellular deployments.

It’s an opportunity for restaurants to generate revenue, though neither Panda Restaurant Group nor officials with Kroo immediately responded to questions about how much revenue could potentially be generated.

“Panda Express is continuously seeking ways to contribute to the communities we serve,” said Roger Goldstein, Panda Restaurant Group’s executive director of facilities, in a statement. “Enhanced 5G cell service for our guests and surrounding neighbors is a win-win for our stores, associates and our greater community.”

With 2,400 restaurants nationwide, Panda Express operates in a number of formats, including malls, universities, casinos, airports and amusement parks. But the chain has a number of “well-suited” rooftops, Kroo said.

“We are excited for the opportunity to work with Panda Express, as we are expediting phase 1 trial build by year end. We have put together a team of best-in-class partners who are more than up to the task with respect to the design, build and operation of our network,” said Matthew Glass, co-founder and chief operating officer of Kroo, in a statement.

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