The City of Rockville seal. (File Photo)

ROCKVILLE—The Rockville City Council held a public hearing on Sept. 16 to allow residents to voice their concerns over 5G and the implementation of small cell antennas in the city. 

Currently, there is legislation in process that would revise the city’s code regulations on the installation of small cell wireless antennas to support 5G capabilities. 

According to Verizon, 5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. The company explains that each new generation provides improvements and innovations to wireless capabilities. For instance, 1G, or the first generation, introduced the first analog cell phones. Second and third generations made capabilities like text messaging, browsing the web and GPS tracking in a mobile format possible.

“Users will know (5G) as one of the fastest, most robust technologies the world has ever seen,” Verizon wrote. “That means quicker downloads, outstanding network reliability and a spectacular impact on how we live, work and play. The connectivity benefits of 5G will make businesses more efficient and give consumers access to more information faster than ever before. Super-connected autonomous cars, smart communities, industrial IoT and immersive education, they all will rely on 5G.”

According to the city of Rockville, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an order on September 2018 that preempts local government authority on issues that relate to installing small cell wireless facilities that support 5G capabilities. 

Small cell antennas also help fill service gaps in places where cell service is unreliable. They also bolster service areas where cell use is very high, like city centers or sports arenas, according to the city.

“Although the FCC Order is being challenged in the courts by numerous local governments from across the United States, it went into effect on Jan. 14, 2018. The city is a participant in one of the pending lawsuits,” Rockville wrote in their overview of the issue.

At the council’s Sept. 16 meeting, Deane Mellander, who works for the city as a zoning administrator, explained that the Planning Commission discussed the issue during meetings earlier this summer and recommends approval of the amendments that would regulate the installation of small cell wireless antennas. 

At local and state levels, there has been some backlash over the implementation of small cell antennas and 5G; often opponents cite concern over 5G and its impact on health. 

Tessa Lachman was one of the residents who spoke during the council’s public hearing. She explained that she would like to see government officials use extreme caution while implementing 5G in Rockville until more studies can be done about the health impacts.

“5G roll-out plans will not eliminate current technology but will be in addition (to current technology), thereby creating a much more powerful and dangerous invisible blanket of electromagnetic radio frequency radiation,” she said. “Since no industry research has been done to test the safety, the roll-out of this project is experimental.” 

She went on to note that countries in Europe are stopping the implementation of 5G and that the roll-out of 5G is in violation of the Nuremberg Laws. 

Nancy Wallace, who serves as chair of the Montgomery County Green Party, also spoke at the public hearing. She stated that the Green Party is the only political party in the United States that does not receive funding from the telecommunications industry. 

“It’s a completely corrupt regulatory and legislative situation,” she said. “There is no option except to simply not facilitate and allow small cell (antennas); there are about 2,000 medical studies showing the harm (of 5G).”

Wallace went on to explain that cancer is on the rise among young people who have grown up using cell phones. 

“The connection with testicular cancer is clear, low fertility, low sperm counts, and most importantly, heart cell cancer and brain cell cancer. That’s what Senator John McCain died from; he was an early adopter of cell phones, and he had two cell phone towers on his property in Arizona,” she said. 

Wallace urged the council to at least delay approving the text amendment, which would regulate small cell antennas in Rockville. 

“This is a fight for the life and the death of your citizens,” she said. 

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton asked legislative aides for more information before the council moves forward with a decision on small cell antennas.

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