The trend of upgrading wireless internet service to 5G has come to Manitou Springs and officials are trying to stay ahead of it.
Citizens voiced their opinions Wednesday night at a public hearing during the city’s planning commission meeting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the City Council chambers.
Supporters of 5G technology say it offers vastly improved service, including faster upload and download speeds.
But 5G also has raised concerns across the country, including in Colorado Springs. Some citizens wonder if 5G transmissions are harmful to health and are concerned that the requisite infrastructure could become neighborhood eyesores.
“I know that people love their wireless devices and want them to go faster,” said James Wallace, who lives in Manitou Springs. “But I don’t want to be harmed by radiation or see 5G equipment all over the place, and ruin what makes this town special.”
Steve Cockerham regularly visits Manitou Springs and tried to put people at ease about 5G.
“I spent 31 years in the telecommunications industry, and let me assure you that you have nothing to worry about,” he said.
The City Council held a work session last week to discuss possible ordinances to regulate 5G installation, even though the federal government doesn’t give local governments much control over service providers in the matter.
“I think we can regulate, to some extent, where (5G resources are) placed and how they look, so we have some ability to do that,” Mayor Ken Jaray said.
According to a statement posted last week on the Manitou Springs Facebook page, the city “intends to adopt small cell/5G regulations so that (it) has control over how and where these facilities locate, what they look like, and how much they must pay to locate within our right of way.”
The City Council also may consider updating regulations on all wireless facilities in the city, not just 5G, and is scheduled to vote on proposed ordinances next month.
Last weekend in Colorado Springs, a panel of experts met in a public meeting at a library branch to discuss 5G.
Thursday morning, the Colorado Springs Planning Commission will hear an appeal of an earlier decision to allow service providers to install wireless equipment on an unused 100-foot cell tower near the intersection of Constitution Avenue and Avondale Drive.
The appeal was filed by homeowners who oppose the use of the tower and want it removed. The homeowners said they believe 5G equipment will be installed there but a city representative disputed that.
The Colorado Springs City Council discussed the 5G trend during a meeting last month but has yet to schedule public hearings or propose specific regulations.
A city official recently said that although 5G preparation work has begun, actual installation won’t begin until late this year or early next year.