Aspen Looking For Comments on Small Cells

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As a vacation destination for the discerning traveler, Aspen, Colorado wants to look its best. It also wants to provide superior connectivity for residents and visitors alike, but not in a way that displeases the eye. As the Aspen Daily News reports, the public has been asked to comment on how to introduce 5G readiness and small cell transmitters to their community. 

Both Colorado and the FCC have ruled in favor of telecommunications upgrades, as previously reported in Inside Towers. Recent meetings with Aspen citizens are a reminder that the issue on the table is aesthetics. “That’s the big fundamental change that the city of Aspen and other communities are responding to, is the use of the public rights-of-way for these small cell facilities,” said city planner Ben Anderson, “A year ago, we would have never allowed the telecommunications industry to have facilities in that right-of-way.”  

Unlike cell towers, which people often complain are eyesores, small cell units are more compact, but signal transmissions rely on a proliferation of them, according to the Aspen Daily News. Aspen officials must decide if they can work with existing structures, like lampposts and rooftop antennas, or if new construction will be needed. 

If carriers can be persuaded to share resources, this will also impact how much building must take place. So far, AT&T is the only provider to file an installation request. Successful 5G transmission requires units placed every 200 to 300 feet, according to the account. 

“I would say the people who have the health concerns seem to be the most engaged,” said City Information Director Paul Schultz. “But the engagement has been very good and the community has done their homework.” Health concerns have some people wondering if fewer macro towers placed further apart would be preferable to small cell towers throughout the town. Considering the question of which option was best, Aspen resident Michael Palmer said, “Health is a higher priority, and I can’t answer the question until you tell me if it’s healthy or not.”  

November 13, 2019

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