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5G could widen the gap between haves and have-nots

The next generation of wireless technology could bring many new benefits, but they won’t be coming to everyone. When it comes to 5G, the possibilities are the stuff science fiction dreams are made of. We picture our lives inside our seamlessly connected smart homes, with autonomous cars to take us to work and the speediest, most reliable internet connectivity ensuring that our streaming video never buffers. After all, 5G has been hailed as the advent of the fourth industrial revolution. Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf called it the biggest thing since electricity. That's great for people living in societies that will have access to 5G technologies, but what about those that don't? For all the

Under threat of lawsuit, GA Catoosa County approves cell tower

After rejecting a proposal to build a 160-foot cell tower last year, the Catoosa County commission agreed Tuesday night to let a company build a pole instead. The pole is supposed to help T-Mobile provide service in an area that is currently blacked out. It will be located off Daily Hill Road, about 2 miles south of Costco. County Attorney Clifton "Skip" Patty said people will only be able to see the pole from one direction. If they built the tower, he said, people would be able to see the structure from three sides. The commission's decision came after the company trying to build the pole, GulfSouth Towers, filed a federal lawsuit against the county. Rather than inviting neighbors to speak

Group: Public in dark about cell tower plans in Grand Teton

Grand Teton National Park has inappropriately prevented the public from learning about tentative plans for more than 50 miles of fiber-optic cable and new cellphone towers at 11 locations in the majestic preserve in Wyoming, an environmental group says. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says it obtained a document through the Freedom of Information Act detailing the plan at the foot of the Teton Range. The group’s executive director, Jeff Ruch, said Friday there’s been a pattern of national parks such as Yosemite and Great Smoky Mountains allowing new towers with little or no public notice. Grand Teton spokesman Andrew White said the park sought public comment last summer at

Village of the Branch, NY trustees look for way to restrict cell towers

Village of the Branch trustees are studying legislation to regulate cell towers. “We’re evaluating what steps other municipalities have taken to put some level of control around the influx of cell towers,” Mayor Mark Delaney said. “They’re fine in commercial areas but can be a real eyesore in residential neighborhoods.” The village has at least one cellular array on a commercial building off Route 111, and another is not far from the village on Terry Road, Delaney said. A developer has proposed building a tower on West Main Street across from Stop & Shop in Smithtown, but earlier this month the Smithtown Town Council ordered an environmental impact study to be conducted before it would vote

FCC Alters Small Cell Oversight, Tribal Review Process

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday passed a sweeping proposal to lift federal requirements for reviewing wireless infrastructure projects. The measure passed 3-2, with the commission's Republican members voting in favor and its two Democratic commissioners dissenting. "It's a chance for the FCC to demonstrate our commitment to seeing the United States and American consumers win the race to 5G," Commissioner Brendan Carr, who authored the proposal, said during the meeting. The initiative, in particular, would remove federal oversight of small cellular installations under the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act. Proponents argued that elimina

Controversial VA Cell Tower Bill Rests in Governor Northam's Hands

Local governments are pressing the governor’s office to make significant changes to a bill governing where and when cell towers can be constructed. For local governments, the coin of the realm is zoning. Land use decisions are the bread and butter of city councils and board of supervisors, which is why so many of them are upset about a bill now being considered by the governor. They say the bill limits their power to stop the construction of cell towers. Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore says his bill just cuts through red tape. “I wouldn’t say more difficult. If you read the last clause, it says nothing prohibits. But it does set forth a timeframe for them to them to make the approval proce

Wireless antenna bill strips away rights of citizens, GA mayor says

As the time draws near for a vote on Senate Bill 426, a reminder to lawmakers that the decision made will have a lasting impact on every city and town across Georgia, and a request to look at facts and effects, not simply the will of private utilities in making a decision. (“Wireless antenna bill is latest threat to local control, Sandy Springs says,” March. 7.) In communities like Sandy Springs, the right of way literally is part of a homeowners’ front yard. This bill allows private companies to come onto those properties and place a pole or electronic box resembling a refrigerator there without the owner’s permission or a permit by the local government. Senate Bill 426 provides unfettered

Maryland lawmaker cancels bill to limit local control over new cellular facilities

A Maryland lawmaker has withdrawn a bill that could have significantly curtailed local authority over where new cellular equipment structures may be installed in residential areas and what they may look like. Wireless companies and local officials said they will continue to try to negotiate a way to boost Internet speeds, particularly in cities and densely populated suburbs, without creating potential eyesores close to homes. State Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (D-Charles), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said he canceled a Tuesday hearing on the bill because it was too controversial. He said local governments and wireless companies were “worlds apart” over how and where to allow “small-ce

Tribal Groups Call for FCC to Reject Infrastructure Rules Changes

Two groups representing tribal governments urged FCC commissioners to reject proposed changes to wireless infrastructure regulations. The National Congress of American Indians and United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund, in a joint filing with the agency, wrote that the proposal presents an "overall approach that would be detrimental to tribal governments, tribal culture and tribal historic resources as well as contrary to the commission’s trust responsibility." The FCC is scheduled to vote Thursday on a measure that would, in part, stipulate that the small cellular equipment installations needed for 5G networks would not need to be reviewed under the National Historic Pr

New York Cities Object to Proposed State Rules on 5G Towers

A regulation tucked into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget plan regarding cell towers is pitting local governments against the state and major telecom providers like AT&T and Verizon. The proposal would set statewide standards for approving and charging for the use of cell towers, telephone poles or other fixtures that wireless providers use to carry their signals via the newly emerging 5G technology. Municipal officials say that impinges on their local control of cell towers. “This legislation would handcuff the ability of every municipality in New York state to manage access to their public rights-of-way,” states a memo on the proposal from the state Conference of Mayors. State officials, though,

FCC Ruling on 5G Infrastructure May Hurt Cities

The Federal Communications Commission is poised to make a directive on 5G, the next-generation, high-speed wireless standard, that could significantly affect local government control of infrastructure. Two cities, San Jose, Calif., which lies in the heart of Silicon Valley, and Lincoln, Neb., an innovative university and capitol city, both could be profoundly affected if the FCC decides to “cut red tape” with modifications to small cell antenna deployment rules. On March 22, the FCC will meet to eliminate unnecessary regulations to “provide better broadband, connect underserved areas and create jobs,” according to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. This move by the federal agency is supposed to

Towns vs. telecoms: Cuomo pushes to expand cells’ faster ‘5G’ network

Towns and cities are crying foul about a little-noticed provision tucked away in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s state budget that would boost phone companies’ efforts to build a “5G” wireless network, saying it gives away public access at unfairly low prices and undermines their ability to regulate location and appearance of the new technology. “Everybody wants more broadband, but this really usurps the authority of local governments,” said Gerry Geist, executive director of the New York Association of Towns and Villages. “This is really an industry bill.” It is a towns versus telecoms fight that is taking place not only in New York but in a growing number of states. Telecoms, such as AT&T and Veriz

Want a 5G wireless box in front of your house?

The next big thing in wireless is on its way. It's called 5G, or fifth generation. It won’t be an incremental shift, like the move from 3G to 4G, but rather a quantum leap that greatly increases the speed and capabilities of handheld devices. It might even emerge as an competitor to cable. There is a catch, a very sizable one. This new technology doesn’t rely on large cells that stretch for miles and use the towers we’ve grown accustomed to. Rather, it uses microcells, which involve lots and lots of smaller antennae and other devices strewn about neighborhoods. A typical microcell would be served by a small box, or in some cases multiple boxes, hung on existing telephone poles, street lights

Monterey denies remaining small cell facility locations

During a well-attended meeting that ended just short of midnight, the Monterey Planning Commission on Thursday denied the one remaining small cell facility being proposed for Monterey’s Monte Vista neighborhood. That’s because questions remained about the location, which is adjacent to 277 Mar Vista Drive and 7 Cuestra Vista Drive, and its suitability as the best place for the personal wireless antenna. The decision came in the wake of last week’s decision by ExteNet, the subcontractor of Verizon that develops the cellular facilities, to withdraw 12 of their proposed 13 applications for such facilities after the city’s planning staff recommended denial of 10 of the 13 projects. “They felt th

Wireless firms seek to preempt local authority to install 5G equipment in neighborhoods

The next big thing in cellular technology, 5G, will bring lightning-fast wireless Internet — and thousands of antenna-topped poles to many neighborhoods where cell towers have long been banned. Wireless companies are asking Congress and state lawmakers to make it easier to install the poles by preempting local zoning laws that often restrict them, particularly near homes. The lobbying efforts have alarmed local officials across the country. They say they need to ensure that their communities do not end up with unsightly poles cluttering sidewalks, roadsides and the edges of front yards. They also are hearing from residents worried about possible long-term health risks. Until now, much of the

Common cause for Carroll County: Oppose Maryland SB 1188

Every so often, legislation is composed in Annapolis which becomes a common cause for which all residents of Carroll County (and Maryland) can support or oppose. In the case of Senate Bill 1188: Wireless Facilities – Permitting and Sitting, the latter is true.The rather mundanely named bill has far-reaching consequences: It strips away the rights of citizens, undermines local government and grows power in the hands of both the state and communications companies. SB 1188 ought to be opposed at every turn. The legislation aims to create a uniform process for the placing of small cell towers (which amplify cell service signals) in all Maryland counties and municipalities. On the face of it, cre

TN Cities keeping a watch on 'small cell' towers bill

City and town leaders in Tennessee are being urged to keep an eye on a “small cell” transmission bill pending in the state General Assembly that advocates believe could infringe on a municipality’s authority over its rights of way. Officials with CNX, a company that designs broadband master plans for municipalities across the nation, say it is an effort by the wireless industry to strip communities of local control over where and how small cell transmitters are located. Gina Hatchett, a research analyst for CNX, said last week Tennessee is not alone in facing such legislation. Currently, similar bills are pending in the legislatures of 14 states. A small cell bill has also passed both houses

Local Officials to FCC: We’re Not the Ones Impeding 5G

A group of 36 local elected officials, mostly mayors, sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday criticizing its efforts to undercut their jurisdictions’ oversight of 5G deployment. Additionally, independent researcher RVA LLC surveyed 176 local government employees and found 44 percent of their communities had already deployed small cells, with 26 percent considering doing so. The officials pointed to the findings as proof local governments aren’t impeding rapid 5G deployment sought by the U.S. wireless industry in its race with China, a narrative perpetuated by several FCC commissioners. One of three Republicans on the commission, Michael O’Rielly called for preempt

Editorial: NE Bill to promote rural wireless is unbalanced, would create major problems for cities

A proposal before the Nebraska Legislature, Legislative Bill 389, has a worthy goal — encouraging wireless technology in rural communities. Unfortunately, LB 389 as currently written would create major problems for urban areas. It’s unbalanced legislation that would erode municipalities’ legitimate authority. Heated debate is expected on this highly technical bill. If lawmakers can’t correct the legislation’s multiple flaws through amendments, LB 389 should be voted down. The bill’s commendable aim is to help rural communities gain access to next-generation 5-G wireless technology via equipment known as “small cells.” That technology — consisting of antennas, radio equipment and support devi

Denver’s 5G Plans Mean Antennas, Lots of Them

The next generation of blazing-fast cellular data speeds hasn’t arrived yet, but the major wireless carriers are hard at work in Denver laying the groundwork. So far, Verizon has led the pack by planting its flag in dozens of spots, in the form of 30-foot poles topped with antennas that boost signal strength in a one- to two-block radius. Hundreds more, or perhaps thousands, are likely on the way, city officials say. The installations are turning heads — though not always in a good way. Residents of The Riviera, a 36-unit condo building at 1175 Emerson St., protested last month after a Verizon contractor, with no apparent notice, installed a pole footsteps from the main entrance of their bui

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