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City Hall: Feds say health concerns not valid reason to stand in the way of 5G internet
USA Created: 6 Dec 2018
Questions about the health impacts of placing small cell towers throughout Sioux Falls have been raised as the nation's top telecommunication companies aggressively push for fifth generation wireless internet speeds known as 5G.

But, according to federal rules, health concerns about radiation and radio frequency emissions aren't a valid reason for local governments to stand in the way of the expansion of 5G technology.

5G health impacts get brought up during public input at City Council meetings, the topic litters the email inboxes of city and media leaders, and Mayor Paul TenHaken even raised the question earlier this year during a U.S. Senate Field Hearing on the new technology.

The Federal Communications Commission, though, says early indications are the technology poses no risk to the public, though there are no definitive studies due to 5G being in its infancy.

And while claims that 5G technology is unsafe don't ring true for TenHaken, his deputy chief of staff T.J. Nelson said even if they did the city couldn't prohibit 5G expansion if it wanted.

"Part of 1996 Telecommunications Act ... preempts local government from regulating wireless communications on the basis of environmental effects of radio frequency emissions," he said.

Nelson is referring to a decades-old law that says no state or local government authority can stand in the way of expanded "personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions" as long as those wireless providers are meeting the FCC's own emissions regulations.

Nelson said the FCC also dictates how much local governments can charge for processing 5G applications.

"Other cities are trying to profit off of it, which is why the FCC has intervened," he said. "We don't want to price gouge, but we still have soft expenses with staff time and we need to be sure we cover our expenses."

That's why City Hall is moving ahead with an ordinance proposal to establish licensing and fee requirements for companies like Verizon Wireless that want to install 5G towers in public right of ways that are in line with FCC guidelines.
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Source: Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Joe Sneve, 28 Nov 2018

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