PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland city leaders and residents alike are worried about the 5G cell towers set to go up in the region.
The Richmond neighborhood is the future site of a 5G small cell tower installation.
Smaller cells can fit on light poles and are in the works nationwide to eventually provide 5G service that’s 20 times faster than 4G.
Signs have recently appeared around the neighborhood, opposing the project and claiming the installation presents a public health risk.
Portland officials told KOIN 6 News they didn’t set up the signs but they encourage residents to call the city if they are worried about cell phone companies putting in small cells, which are nearer to the ground and closer together than traditional cell towers.
City leaders said they are concerned about possible increased health risks associated with radio frequency emissions closer to people.
However, officials said they’re powerless to act on those concerns due to federal laws.
“We cannot block 5G from coming, we can’t make decisions based on health effects — that’s up to the FCC to decide,” said Elisabeth Perez, the operations manager at Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office.
The FCC requires cities to accept all applications from telecommunications companies to expand wireless capabilities.
Portland’s City Council has called on the FCC to carry out more studies and share the results of health effects from wireless technology.
Meanwhile, city lawmakers will vote in June on whether to allow AT&T to continue renting space in the public right-of-way to install its technology for the next 10 years.
The council is expected to approve AT&T’s request.
“That would allow AT&T to continue doing the telecom work in the right-of-way and not dictate what type of technology they are able to use,” said Perez.