High cost of 5G antennas for resort towns

March 12, 2021

Like the national debt, numbers associated with the increase in wireless cellphone traffic not only boggle the mind but border on the inconceivable. 

At a recent meeting of Lewes Mayor and City Council, an AT&T representative said that since introduction of the iPhone in 2007, AT&T’s mobile network has grown more than 580,000 percent. 

The statistics were presented in a discussion about how communities can handle inevitable requests for placement of antennas to best serve residents and visitors with state-of-the-art, 5G-speed infrastructure.

The problem is balancing the needs of these telecommunications giants to plant a lot of the low-volume antennas in communities to serve their residents’ needs against the desire of coastal resorts, in particular, to maintain the naturally attractive environment so important to residents’ and visitors’ quality of life.

Rehoboth Beach has granted permits for dozens of low-height antennas, many of which are being incorporated into new lighting fixtures Verizon is funding to replace existing fixtures along the Boardwalk. That’s an aesthetically sensitive approach that makes sense. 

In Dewey Beach, however, there is no boardwalk, and the town is frustrated at the proliferation of new antenna poles at the ends of some of its streets, right next to the beach, over which it has no say because DelDOT controls those rights of way and grants permits.

Lewes hasn’t yet been approached but is looking at ordinances to get a handle on these new antennas before the companies come knocking.

The Wireless Infrastructure Association gets it. It states that existing infrastructure should be considered first for collocation before new poles are proposed, to reduce visual clutter and avoid unnecessary duplication of infrastructure. “Collocation is today’s industry norm,” the industry states. “Shared wireless infrastructure minimizes the need for infrastructure, a practice supported by the environmental, historic and cultural preservation communities.” Amen to that.

While concerns are being raised about the appearance of barely visible wind turbines proposed for areas many miles off our coast, these rapidly spreading wireless towers are far more insidious, in our face, and deserve much more public attention.

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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