A proposed bill to allow 5G antennas in residential neighborhoods has reignited a debate over the safety of the emerging technology.
At issue is a revised zoning amendment to allow the towers in residential zones as long they replace existing street lights or utility poles.
Montgomery County Council Member Hans Riemer, the bill’s sponsor, has said it strikes a fair balance between resident concerns and the need to regulate and adopt 5G technology as it spreads across the country.
5G antennas — also known as small cell towers — are touted as the gateway to next-generation cellular technology, allowing faster internet speeds and greater connectivity. Wireless companies also say the technology is necessary to accommodate rapidly growing traffic on existing data networks.
They mark a significant shift from older cell towers — large-scale installations that often stretch 100 feet or higher. 5G networks require smaller equipment installed closer together and lower to the ground to build efficient coverage areas.