The Race to 5G: Ahead With Technology, Behind In Communication

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After outcries from residents regarding the feared intrusiveness and health effects of 5G small cells, Metro Council (Louisiana) members and the city-parish administration are committed to revising regulations, reported The Advocate. The mayor has directed her staff and the Parish Attorney’s Office to work on revisions “with all diligent speed.”

Back in 2017, anticipating the rollout of 5G, city-parish officials and Councilman LaMont Cole noted that they wanted to establish a framework to handle 5G permit requests for the downtown and commercial areas. 

The permitting rules were adopted that same year and amended in 2018 to allow utility poles in the public rights-of-way.

This amendment unleashed backlash from the public. Council Pro Tem Scott Wilson said during last Wednesday night’s public hearing, “As a councilman, and I’m not pointing fingers, I didn’t do my job. Period. We got to do a better job, at least I do.”

AT&T began installing small cells, since it already received 139 permits, but agreed to a voluntary halt about three weeks ago at Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s request. The majority of small cell installations were in commercial areas, with 39 in residential neighborhoods.

Additionally, Cox Communications, in partnership with Sprint, is ready to begin a wave of small cell installations on overhead wires, company and city-parish officials have said. The new ordinance calls for consideration around aesthetic effects on neighborhoods, the impact on adjacent property values, review of alternative locations, and possible co-location opportunities on existing structures, to avoid the proliferation of multiple towers, reported The Advocate

Homeowners groups also request that the ordinance give residents within the vicinity of a proposed new tower advance notice before any new permits are issued. A vote on the matter won’t occur until July, reported The Advocate. “We were right on pace about the technology, but in terms of the planning and implementation, we probably could have looked at something a little different,” said Cole.

July 1, 2019

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