UPDATE Verizon Wireless wants to make Syracuse one of the first 5G connected cities in the country, but lawmakers are raising concerns about the health risks of the burgeoning technology, reported Syracuse.com.
Verizon is requesting blanket authorization to install 600 small cells around the city which requires council approval before the 5G buildout can begin. Mayor Ben Walsh said 5G would bolster the high-tech economy he is trying to support and make Syracuse more attractive to businesses.
At a recent Council Meeting, however, councilors asked the carrier for evidence regarding whether 5G is safe and questioned the motives of scientists and federal agencies in favor of the next-gen network. Residents are also fearful of the new technology, wary of unknown risks, reported Syracuse.com.
“We’re getting calls also, and we’re getting letters from people telling us to vote no because they’re concerned about cancer, the frequencies, and all that good stuff,” said Council President Helen Hudson.
Mark Coon, a representative for Verizon, said the consensus of the scientific community is that 5G is not dangerous. Coon added that the small cell emissions, which are the same as other wireless devices, are within standards determined by the Federal Communication Commission and the Food and Drug Administration. The proposed deal also allows Syracuse to ask Verizon for a health and safety audit at any time. If any concerns were discovered, Verizon would shut down its towers, Coon said.
Additionally, President Hudson responded by citing a recent article from Newsweek about a California child diagnosed with cancer, with the child’s parents blaming a tower on a school’s roof for their child’s diagnosis.
The local union also got involved, urging councilors to ensure the contract with the carrier forces Verizon to use organized labor and meet specific hiring requirements as it builds the network.
No councilors spoke in support of the plan and they could vote on the proposal as early as Monday, May 6. If the council rejects the deal, Verizon could still install the 5G network but would have to seek council approval for towers individually.
May 6, 2019