STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WAOW) — Major wireless companies like Verizon, AT&T and Sprint are gearing up for the next generation of high-speed wireless internet for cell phone users. But local governments have some concerns.
Unlike 4G networks that use cell towers, 5G networks will rely on what’s call “small cell” nodes. The small cell nodes will be placed on already existing infrastructure like street and traffic lights. The regulation of these nodes is what’s causing concerns.
Municipalities have had control over where cell towers are placed and how much permits cost, but a new Federal Communication Commission Order is taking some of that control away.
The FCC has placed a cap on how much cities can charge cell companies for a permit. According to Mayor Mike Wiza of Stevens Point, this is a problem because it might leave some people far away from the the 5G nodes.
“Cell phone companies are going to want to serve their biggest, most dense population first. The people on the outskirts are going to be undeserved once again,” the mayor said.
Before, cities like Stevens Point could change permit prices based on location, incentivizing companies to place towers in lower populated area. Mayor Wiza said that won’t be possible with the FCC order.
The mayor is also concerned that cell companies will be able to place nodes where ever they want, without consulting the city first.
But, companies like Verizon have applauded the order. In a statement, Verizon Chief Network Engineering Officer Nicola Palmer said, “We would like to thank the FCC for demonstrating vision and determination in taking the steps needed for the U.S. to maintain it’s leadership position as we enter the 5G age.”