State, local officials clash at hearing on 5G wireless bill

Arguments center on the right of municipalities to control the placement of small cell equipment.

Tony Romeo
August 10, 2018 - 6:34 am
This graphic provided by wireless industry officials depicts a small cell deployed on a street light

Tony Romeo/KYW Newsradio

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — During a House committee hearing Thursday, a Bucks County lawmaker suggested representatives of Pennsylvania municipalities are using "scare" tactics to thwart state legislation intended to smooth the rollout of the next generation of wireless service. 

The legislation is designed to streamline the permitting process for installation of small cell equipment, much of which would be attached to utility poles, street lights and other structures in the right-of-way, something necessary for 5G, the next generation of wireless. 

"House Bill 2564 would almost completely emasculate the ability of municipalities to manage their rights of way with respect to these facilities," said Dan Cohen, an attorney representing city and township officials. "Unfortunately, there has been no substantive engagement to date with municipal associations about this legislation."

But Bucks County Republican Frank Farry, sponsor of the bill, pushed back against the claims being made by opponents.

"What you guys have done is you have spent your time working with the media," Farry said. "For lack of a better term, a scare tactic in what’s being put out relating to this bill."

Industry officials say some 300,000 small cells will have to be deployed nationwide for 5G.