Cell providers to install small cell antennas in public right of way to provide 5G service

Cell providers to install small cell antennas in public right of way to provide 5G service

Starting Thursday, Madisonians could see small cell towers and antennas attached to city street poles or on freestanding poles every several hundred feet.

A City of Madison engineering department representative said at a meeting Wednesday, cell phone companies are installing small cell antennas on light poles in the public right of way.

Hannah Mohelnitzky, the public information officer with the City of Madison engineering department, said these small cell antennas are meant to provide faster internet service on a 5G network.

“Starting tomorrow, August 1, anybody who wants to install a small cell facility can apply for the permit, and we could be seeing more of these small cell facilities in areas of our community as early as two weeks,” Mohelnitzky said.

Some city residents expressed their opposition at Wednesday’s public input meeting. Robert Hoppmann, who lives on Madison’s east side, said he’s concerned for the safety of his kids and doesn’t want them to be exposed to potential microwave radiation.

Others who are opposed to the small cell antennas said at the meeting that they’ve done research about the technology being in place in other cities and said they’ve seen people get sick because of exposure to radiation.

Mohelnitzky said there are rules and regulations monitored by the FCC that the cell companies need to abide by in order for the cell antennas to be allowed to operate in the city. Mohelnitzky added there is little the city can do to regulate the devices, but are trying to control as much as they can.

“There are a lot of people on their cell phones. There are a lot of people who are using their mobile devices and data. The wireless carriers are trying to keep up. There’s also regulations, and we have in place our guidelines from a city level that we can control.”

The cell antennas would be no larger than three cubic feet.

Starting August 1, a city of Madison ordinance requires providers to apply for a permit to install small cells in specific locations. The permit applications will be $100 each. The cell antennas only reach several hundred feet.

To learn more about the cell infrastructure, click here.

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