WALNUT CREEK (KPIX 5) – Up to 50,000 cell phone towers coming to cities across California.
But will you get a say on where they pop up?
California cities are now fighting back at a proposed law that is moving quickly through the legislature.
They say it would allow phone companies to put up new antennas in your neighborhood, like it or not.
State Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) says, “5G wireless has the potential to be a game changer.”
But to pave the way for that game change, telecom companies need to put up between 30,000 and 50,000 of cell antennas — including in your town — over the next five years with only limited local say.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said, “Neighborhoods would be seeing something the size of refrigerators going up on street poles and could say nothing to stop it.”
Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan said, “Could be on a library, could be on a school.”
“On traffic signals, light polls,” Liccardo said. “This would give the companies the right to install on any public infrastructure and we would have zero ability to say ‘no.'”
On the other hand, the new network could also mean much faster Internet service to keep California on the innovation forefront.
The use of smart devices and mobile Internet has increased 2,300 percent statewide since 2010.
Steve Carlson with CTIA-Wireless Association said, “California was the epicenter of the last Internet revolution and can and should be the epicenter of the next one.”
Huesso said, “Business investment and job creation will follow.”
As for local say?
Huesso said, it “preserves local government right for reasonable concerns.”
There is also the issue of money.
The new rules would cap how much local jurisdictions could charge telecom companies at $250 per antenna, a far cry from the $1,250 that cities like San Jose now get.
Liccardo said, “You are talking about an industry that will net $500 billion after full build out.”
Telecom contributed $2.4 million to California’s Democratic and Republican parties in the 2016 election.