After hearing concerns from a local health care provider, the Manchester City Council tabled a proposed lease agreement with a communications company until it obtained more information on the type of technology that would be utilized on the site, specifically 5G.
According to the Associated Press, 5G is the new technical standard for wireless networks, which promises faster speeds when connecting to networks while being better equipped to handle heavier digital traffic.
The pending five-year lease agreement with Comelec Internet LLC would allow the company to modify its existing equipment located on the Williams Street water tower.
But during a public hearing on the proposal, Manchester resident Zac Lujan wanted to know what radiation frequency the proposed equipment would be operating on and whether or not the council had assessed any potential health risks associated with 5G.
“Are we aware as a community of the potential health implications of using a higher frequency piece of equipment? I think that’s something very valuable for the community to know,” Lujan said. “As a local health care provider and a parent, those are things we look at every day — even within our own home.”
While City Manager Tim Vick did not have that specific information at the meeting, he did follow up with Comelec to obtain more details.
Keith Brimeyer, a representative from Comelec, informed Vick that the equipment being used for internet access isn’t 5G.
“We have been using this type of equipment for the last 20 years,” Brimeyer wrote in an email. “It is using the same frequency, 5ghz, that most people use on their home routers that sits right in the homes and our equipment is mounted over 100 feet in the air on the water tower.”
Vick also informed the council there is currently legislation in place that would prohibit the city from stopping “small-tower” communication sites.
“I would have to look at what restrictions are in place by the FCC and other federal guidelines, if we can even prohibit it,” Vick said.
City Attorney Jim Peters said he will draft a memo detailing what authority the council has concerning these types of regulations.
The council unanimously agreed to postpone voting on the lease until more information is gathered. Additional discussion and possible action will likely occur at its April 13 meeting.