Keene City Council Temporarily Bans 5G Until 2021

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Keene City Council, (Cheshire County, New Hampshire), has voted to reject any applications until January 2, 2021, for technology services above 4G. Efforts made by nonconformists and members of the City Council have proven to be successful for the time being. Committee meetings and a public hearing (held in February) allowed residents to voice their concerns regarding the health risks of 5G technologies. The City Council members voted 10-2, with City Council members Mike Giacomo and Mike Remy disagreeing with the popular vote. The council has collectively agreed upon a separate motion to draft an ordinance, which will produce location and design standards for the small 5G cell towers installed in the public rights-of-way.

The 5G small cell towers would be placed every few hundred feet from each other as the higher frequency radio waves cannot travel as far as to provide proper service. Due to the deficiency of research on the health effects of 5G, many are protesting against the installations. New Hampshire took action in passing a bill in the Legislature to form a commission to study the health and environmental health effects, “all things pertaining to radio frequency radiation (RF).” The commission is scheduled to deliver its discoveries in November. The draft ordinance of rejection of the applications until next year will, therefore, provide sufficient time for the council to review the health report, as stated by Chairwoman Kate M. Bosley.

Councilman Remy, on the other hand, stated he would be voting against the temporary halt on 5G cell tower installations. Remy said he does not wish to do “anything that’s going to discourage companies from investing in Keene.” Rejecting any applications for services above 4G may also open the city to lawsuits. The Telecommunications Act states local governments cannot discriminate against providers or prohibit wireless service. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines elaborate on a variety of local regulations that would escalate to the level of “effectively prohibit[ing]” service. City Attorney Thomas P. Mullins stated, “If your standards don’t allow the competitor to be able to operate, they’re going to be able to go into the federal district court and say that that standard is inhibiting [their] competition rights, so it’s very important to understand that, that we’re trying to create something that will keep everybody on the same playing field.” Keene is attempting to address these concerns in the draft ordinance to include small cells.

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