Advertisement

The nationwide debate over how to regulate the small cellular sites needed to deploy 5G networks took center stage in Pennsylvania and Illinois in recent weeks.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that local officials are concerned that proposed legislation in Pennsylvania would erode their zoning authority, while the Aurora Beacon-News added this week that suburban Chicago communities are united against a measure before the Illinois legislature.

"We all want it, but let's do it right," Steve Chirico, the mayor of Naperville, Ill., said of 5G technology. "Let's be thoughtful about it. We don't get a second chance at this."

The Pennsylvania bill, like measures floated in other states, would limit local authorities' ability to restrict the installation of small cells on streetlights, telephone poles, and select public property.

Telecom companies argue that broad legislation is needed to ensure that cellular sites can be deployed in a timely manner to support next-generation networks, but municipalities from coast to coast expressed concerns about a lack of local oversight.

In Pennsylvania, local leaders suggested small cells could be installed with little warning in historic neighborhoods.

The Illinois bill, meanwhile, exempts Chicago from statewide small cell standards, but nearby communities lodged similar complaints — including that the measure would effectively give private companies power over public property while limiting cities' ability to be compensated.

"Who do you want to decide what your neighborhood looks like?" Dan Cronin, chairman of the DuPage County board, said at Monday's press conference in Aurora. "This is overreaching by the state."

Although proponents of small cell legislation were dealt a blow last month when California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill in his state, they maintain a simplified zoning process is badly needed.

Pennsylvania Rep. Nick Miccarelli, who sponsored the bill, noted his state's well-documented issues with internet speeds.

"This would go a long way in rectifying these problems," Miccarelli, a suburban Philadelphia Republican, told the Inquirer.

Advertisement
Advertisement