Officials in Florida’s third-largest city recently advanced a measure governing placement of 5G wireless antennas — but not before criticizing state legislators for essentially tying their hands on the matter.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Thursday’s vote took a step toward establishing how Tampa will address a likely flood of permit applications from wireless companies seeking to support next-generation networks in coming years.
But the report noted that legislation passed by Florida lawmakers earlier this year, in part, prevents local officials from prohibiting new antennas or imposing distance requirements on antenna installation. The ordinance would instead define “small” and “large” wireless facilities and establish design parameters and application procedures.
New 5G technology will not rely on conventional cell towers but will instead need far more numerous wireless antennas — some as large as a refrigerator. Council members warned that the state restrictions will result in potentially unpleasant aesthetic changes in Tampa neighborhoods due to antenna installations.
“This is a great example of us being at the mercy of another level of government basically telling us what we can and can’t do,” council member Harry Cohen said at the meeting, according to the Times.
Local officials in numerous states continue with struggle with how to implement 5G antennas, and Florida local government leaders strongly criticized the state restrictions when they cleared the Legislature earlier this year.
Carriers, meanwhile, complained about state and local barriers to their efforts to add new cell sites and upgrading existing base stations across the U.S., and the Federal Communications Commission is weighing improvements to infrastructure review processes.
Florida state Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, told the Orlando Sentinel in May that the proposal sought to balance local authority with the need to deliver new technology statewide.
“There are so many jurisdictions that it can be a contracting nightmare for these companies to negotiate with each municipality,” Baxley told the paper.
The Tampa officials who drafted the ordinance acknowledged some discomfort with the state law, but senior assistant city attorney Rebecca Kert suggested that, “We’re in a better position than some other states.”
The ordinance will the subject to public hearings Thursday and again on Oct. 26, the Times reported.
Filed Under: Industry regulations, Wireless