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Local Governments Voice Concerns Over Rollout Of 5G Wireless Networks

Johan Larsson / Flickr

Johan Larsson / Flickr

Wireless carriers eager to roll out faster 5G technology want the California Legislature to streamline the local approvals process. But local governments argue the proposal would take away their powers of oversight and negotiation.

5G could be fast enough to replace home Wi-Fi a few years from now. But carriers will need to add new antennas much more densely than the current system – building on existing utility poles and street lights.

Local governments want to negotiate carriers’ use of that infrastructure. But Democratic Senator Ben Hueso says in some cases, cities and counties want too much money – potentially thousands of dollars for each “small cell” facility.

"While they’re looking out for their cities, and their revenue, this is going to dramatically impact the cost of providing this service to the people of our state," Hueso says.

Hueso’s bill would cap how much carriers have to pay, and limit local governments’ input. That’s a problem to Chris Lee with the California State Association of Counties/

"We think it’s important that we have some level of review to make sure that these facilities fit in," Lee says, "both in terms of aesthetics and just the practical implications of putting wireless antennas on stoplights and streetlights.""

The bill passed the Senate late last month 32 to 1, and heads to an Assembly committee next week.


Daniel Potter


Daniel Potter started out as an intern at Nashville Public Radio, where he worked as a general assignment reporter for six years, covering everything from tornadoes to the statehouse.   Read Full Bio 

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