How 5G pits the FCC, carriers against local governments

CNET | 10/18/2018 | Marguerite Reardon
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City officials in Doylestown, Pennsylvania wanted 5G, but they didn't want to mar the charm of their historic downtown. New federal rules and state laws limiting local oversight could make it harder for other municipalities to do the same.

Given the hype and interest over 5G, you'd think any community would welcome the next-generation cellular technology with open arms.

Doylestown - Pennsylvania

Not Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

When cell tower operator Crown Castle proposed in 2014 to erect dozens of 5G small-cell antennas for Verizon along the town's streets, Doylestown pushed back. Residents of the quaint community, nestled in the heart of history-rich Bucks County, wanted to ensure the speaker-size equipment mounted atop traffic lights or telephone poles wouldn't spoil its small-town charm.

Borough - Hearings - Battle - State - Courts

So the borough spent $150,000, held several public hearings, and fought a legal battle in state and federal courts for nearly two years, defending its right to say where the small cells would go.

The borough, home to 8,200 residents, settled with Crown Castle in July. Crown Castle agreed to conceal more of its gear and deploy fewer radios, and Doylestown was able to preserve its historic downtown, as well as earn some compensation for the use of the municipality's rights of way.

Decades - Streetscapes - Shoppers - Tourists - John

"We have spent decades trying preserve the streetscapes that bring the shoppers and tourists," John Davis, borough manager, said in an interview. "So it's important for us to have some amount of local control."

The battle serves as a harbinger of the potential clashes between local municipalities and the forces pushing 5G, namely wireless carriers and federal and state authorities. The friction lies in who has the ultimate authority to grant carriers the permission to hang more cellular radios, which are necessary for 5G service to work. Historically, that power has rested with locals.

Stake - Carriers

At stake is how quickly the carriers will be able to roll...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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