County wants good limits on rights of means as wi-fi trade hopes for bonanza

7 mins read

Our opposition to Montgomery County’s newest telecommunications towers zoning textual content modification (ZTA 19-07) is all in regards to the future.

We’re preventing for the rights of residents to have significant voice about future use of our shared public rights of means, and particularly need to make certain wi-fi firms respect the character and security of all residential neighborhoods.

Rights of means are inside and encompass all residential neighborhoods, together with the entrance sidewalks of condo buildings and condos.

Public rights of means are woven into the material of neighborhoods and are a veritable gold mine of current infrastructure (utility poles, streetlights, lampposts, intersection alerts, and many others.). Wi-fi corporations need to set up antennas, radios and gear cupboards in varied configurations on these poles.

However what the wi-fi trade actually desires — and what ZTA 19-07 grants them — is just about unrestricted and closely sponsored entry to our public rights of approach to set up obtrusive wi-fi amenities that may and will probably be expanded.

The prize is billions of {dollars} in potential revenues by luring shoppers to “lower the twine” and use mobile hyperlinks for downloading leisure and video video games in lieu of cable/fiber.

ZTA 19-07 can be a bonanza for wi-fi corporations and permit cell poles “by proper” inside simply 30 ft of home windows in all residential zones — and even nearer with specifically expedited (and trade stilted) hearings for “conditional use” approvals, each time wanted.

The ZTA for Montgomery County incorporates nearly no necessities for concealments whereas permitting nearly each chosen pole to be made taller. Residents will probably be completely lower out of the method.

Fact be informed, Montgomery County is already a regional, and maybe even nationwide, chief in state-of-the-art wi-fi deployment. Wi-fi suppliers can be hard-pressed to show in any other case (and silly by way of doubtlessly forfeited buyer recruitments).

If in case you have any doubts in regards to the top quality and complete availability of 4G/LTE and likewise 5G — for these fortunate few who can afford it — look no additional than protection maps posted on all three main wi-fi supplier web sites: Verizon, AT&T and T-Cell.

These protection maps clearly exhibit that 5G is throughout our county, proper now. And protection is increasing and bettering day by day.

We took a have a look at roughly 270 purposes submitted to the county’s Tower Committee between July 2019, when 5G antennas arrived, and December 2020. These purposes have been primarily for antenna “swap outs” on macro constructions resembling constructing rooftops, water towers, lattice towers and monopoles.

What we discovered was that on common, no less than three “new radio” or 5G antennas have been being changed per software. That might imply the county now has no less than 810 (and doubtless many extra) 5G antennas, together with many hundreds of 4G/LTE antennas. These numbers are quickly rising.

Again-of-the-envelope math is the most effective we are able to do, as a result of the county’s Tower Committee doesn’t distinguish between 3G, 4G and 5G antenna gadgets and doesn’t exactly tabulate present antenna stock.

Very importantly, upgraded antennas — together with 5G antennas — are already in  the Agricultural Reserve and even on cell poles in some residential areas, the place antennas have lengthy been allowed by zoning ordinances handed 20-plus years in the past.

The underside line: Within the race for 5G, Montgomery County can go toe to toe with Arlington or D.C., or another jurisdiction in our area, and don’t have anything to be ashamed about. We’re in no hazard of turning into a technological backwater of misplaced enterprise alternatives and disconnected college students.

Lest you consider we’re failing emergency responders, the county appropriated greater than $113 million lately upgrading emergency communications, together with state-of-the artwork radios and constructing a dozen new emergency communications towers. 

The County Council is poised to take a last vote on ZTA 19-07 on Tuesday.

Residents have raised many objections about this invoice and cautioned the council in regards to the complexities of wi-fi zoning, whereas highlighting the county’s dismal report on wi-fi facility regulation.

We’re strongly urging the council to pause and at a really minimal, create a piece group with representatives of all stakeholders, together with the trade, residents, impacted municipalities, and civic, owners and renters associations, to make certain the county has the absolute best laws for wi-fi zoning.

As protection maps and numbers clearly exhibit, there isn’t a must rush. Reasonably, the council’s prime precedence must be to guarantee that every one residential areas and neighborhoods have truthful, clear, well-planned and equitable wi-fi guidelines and enforcement. 

We strongly consider that any company entities allowed entry to our valuable public rights of means should act nearly as good neighbors.

Rick Meyer of North Potomac is government director of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Management of Cell Towers and has lived within the county for nearly 40 years.

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