5G piloting plan creates local arguments

Sam Bull, Editor-in-Chief

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5G, the fifth generation of wireless technology for cellular networks, is being met with local controversy and frustration regarding plans for its piloting in the village of Western Springs. Citizens express concern about new 5G laws as well as the potential health risks the technology could bring.

At a Western Springs village hall meeting Jan. 27, local residents spoke up against the Illinois General Assembly Senate Bill 1451 passed on April 12, 2018, also known as the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act.

According to the village website, the Act “provides the regulations and process for permitting and deploying small wireless facilities within rights-of-way and on private property throughout Illinois (excluding Chicago).”

This Act essentially states that private telecommunication companies can place potentially harmful pieces of technology on the personal property of citizens of certain villages with or without approval. 

Local organization Stop 5G Hinsdale and Neighbors argues that, as well as impeding on personal property, the technology could expose citizens to an unhealthy amount of radiation.

5G raises concerns about potentially leading to cancer and the destruction of DNA, among other things. According to LiveScience, many studies have been conducted since the dawn of wireless technology, with a respectable amount raising flags about health concerns. 

Despite potential health risks and municipal controversy, large tech corporations adjudge that the implementation of small cell towers will be a positive enhancement for communities. According to T-Mobile, 5G will bring “stronger network reliability, faster downloads, and support for more connected devices than ever before.”

Tech companies believe that 5G can go even beyond faster mobile phone activity. Telecommunication company Qualcomm states that the technology will “elevate the mobile network to not only interconnect people, but also interconnect and control machines, objects, and devices. It will deliver new levels of performance and efficiency that will empower new user experiences and connect new industries.”

From Verizon’s plans for a future of medicine that includes 5G-compatible robots doing surgery, to T-Mobile’s plans of using 5G to transmit life-saving data and information about natural disasters, many corporations see a future of positivity and innovation with this new generation of technology. 

Objectively speaking, 5G has the potential to bring an abundance of benefits to the world, and will be crucial in the further innovation and development of technology. On the other hand, 5G also has not been guaranteed to be completely safe and Illinois Senate Bill 1451 can certainly lead to an impedance of personal property. 

Opponents of the senate bill and government decision argue not completely against the new generation of technology, but rather for more extensive research on the unknowns and potential dangers it may pose before its piloting. Frustration in Western Springs centers around the town’s lack of control over the implementation of 5G within its own borders.

A Feb. 13 meeting at Lyons Township High School will move the village closer towards a definitive fate for 5G and allow opportunity for discussion of how to gain local control over the matter. The village board will invite state and federal legislators involved in the issue along with residents to work towards a common goal of safety for residents and innovation for the community. More information will follow the meeting.