Friday , 16 November 2018
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An audacious 5G power (pole) grab – Los Angeles Times

An audacious 5G power (pole) grab – Los Angeles Times

Telecommunications companies are preparing to roll out the next generation of wireless networks, dubbed “5G,” which promise an enormous increase in capacity and connectivity. These networks not only will increase competition in broadband, they are a key enabling technology for a host of advanced products and services. They also represent a gateway to better economic opportunities in inner-city areas that are underserved by broadband today.

But these new networks are different in structure and appearance too. Instead of high-powered antennas on tall towers, they rely on an array of lower-power transmitters closer to the ground that serve much smaller “cells.” That’s why mobile phone companies are concerned that cities and counties will throw up bureaucratic or financial roadblocks to 5G in their communities. It’s not a groundless worry; wireless companies already have encountered local resistance in places where they have introduced the new technology.

It’s the look and the intrusiveness of the small cell networks that seems to spark the controversy. People are upset about the deployment of thousands of pieces of equipment the size of small appliances being placed strategically and liberally on publicly owned “vertical infrastructure” (that’s bureaucratese for municipal utility poles, street lights and even traffic lights). That means a lot of equipment in full view and in proximity — really close in some cases — to houses and people.

The wireless industry has a solution to this potentially huge NIMBY headache: A bill in the California legislature (SB 649) that would “streamline” the approval process for putting small cell networking gear on public poles and lights. If it’s on property the government controls, approval would be automatic in most cases, so local governments couldn’t drag out the permitting process with public hearings and studies. The bill also would limit how much rent locals can charge the companies for space on their poles and lights.

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