After a two-week voting delay, Syracuse (NY) Common Council approved a deal with Verizon Wireless to install hundreds of small cells throughout the city, laying the groundwork for 5G, reported Syracuse.com. Now, some councilors are concerned over whether the new technology is “worth the risk.”
Syracuse is on track to become one of the first 5G connected cities in the country.
According to Mayor Ben Walsh, it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for a mid-size city to be on the cutting edge of the tech industry.
Additionally, the city’s deal with Verizon allows local officials to preserve control and oversight, requiring safety checks to ensure the small cells comply with federal standards. This type of authority would not be possible if Verizon put small cells on private property.
Opponents of the technology have concerns over possible side effects, including health impacts. Councilor Bryn Lovejoy-Grinnell, who voted against the deal, said: “the potential risk outweighed the potential reward.”
“I share the administration’s hope…that this provides an opportunity for growth in Syracuse and that people actually do get 5G,” said Lovejoy-Grinnell. “But to me, you have to think about how bad is the risk if we’re wrong about this. If we’re wrong, the risk is terrible.”
Another concern is that Verizon won’t make 5G available citywide, focusing instead on affluent areas only. Lawmakers and even council proponents are wary regarding whether the poor will be left behind.
Greg Loh, director of city initiatives, said the vote was a, “very positive step forward” that will allow Syracuse to maintain a competitive advantage when trying to attract new businesses.
Installation of the small cells should begin sometime this year, reported Syracuse.com.
May 24, 2019