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Understanding that New Cellphone Equipment

In recent weeks, I have been getting a lot of questions and about the new telephone equipment that has been appearing on our streets.  These new cell phone stations are part of the fifth generation of mobile phone networks.  Fifth generation is called 5G for short.

Over the last four decades, a new generation of mobile phone network technology has been introduced in the United States every eight to ten years, beginning with the first generation (1G) around 1983.  The fifth generation (or 5G) of that technology was introduced in America in 2019.

The fourth generation (4G) of cell phone stations required large phone towers.  The fifth generation (5G) is different.  Its signals go for short distances, so it uses many small cell towers to carry the signal across cities.  Bayonne was one of the cities chosen for the current round of 5G equipment installation, because we are a densely populated community.  AT&T is setting up 5G equipment in Bayonne currently.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the cell phone industry.  The FCC took away many powers that cities might have had to regulate 5G equipment.  However, some powers have been left in our hands. The City of Bayonne passed an ordinance to regulate what we could about the placement of 5G equipment.  For example, we require that 5G equipment must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that the equipment cannot block intersections.   The ordinance also requires that cell phone companies must use existing utility poles to the greatest extent possible before building anything new.  The companies are also forbidden to abandon their equipment. We negotiated with AT&T for financial compensation for its installation of 5G equipment in Bayonne.  For each utility pole that AT&T uses, the company must pay the City of Bayonne $270 per pole per year.  Utility poles are installed by utility companies.  Then wireless phone companies affix their equipment to them.

Beyond what I discussed above, the City of Bayonne cannot do much, because utilities are regulated mostly by the federal and state governments.  We do not have the power to forbid the utilities from installing the fifth generation (5G) in Bayonne.  The FCC has the power to regulate utilities on health and safety issues.  You may file a complaint about phone companies with the FCC by going to consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.  An online form is available there.  We will continue to monitor 5G activities in Bayonne and do whatever we can under the law.

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