(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Whether or not Arlington County chooses to make a small code change could have a big impact on how quickly the county rolls out 5G wireless technology.
The new technology promises faster mobile data speeds and a network more capable of real-time connections to “smart city” infrastructure like driverless cars, among other benefits. But 5G requires many small devices with antennas be installed throughout an area to work — and that’s where plans hit a snag in Arlington.
The Arlington County Board is set to hold a public hearing during its regular Saturday, July 13 meeting in Courthouse to discuss whether these devices can be placed on publicly-owned structures like light poles and utility poles.
The county has yet to share the agenda for the upcoming July meeting.
Since 2017, small cell telecommunications facilities could be installed on privately-owned structures (like buildings), but not on publicly-owned structures. If the Board approves the code change, the equipment could start being installed on county-owned structures as early as August, per a staff report to the Board.
The staff report also notes that companies would have to pay a $250 application fee plus another, “nominal” annual fee to Arlington for installing the tech on public property.
The County Board unanimously agreed to schedule the hearing during their Board meeting last Saturday, June 15. Beforehand, Board Chair Christian Dorsey noted that an Arlington resident submitted “an extensive letter” listing concerns about the initiative.
Residents in neighboring jurisdictions have opposed the installation of the devices out of concerns about construction and whether the low levels of radio wave emission could be harmful.
“One of the reasons why we wanted to have a hearing is that we haven’t really discussed this in broad circles,” said Dorsey last week. “This is in many ways going to touch on our way of life.”
Board member Katie Cristol said she supported the motion and looked forward to a more “fulsome discussion” next month.
“If we do not have small wireless facilities, we actually can’t deploy the 5G networks, and the differences between 4G and 5G is significant,” said Nate Wentland, the county’s chief business technology officer, during the meeting.
“We’ve been such leaders in a lot of ways nationally,” said Board member Matt de Ferranti, adding 5G was essential for the county to stay competitive.
Amazon may have eyed Arlington for its second headquarters partially because of its access to advanced network technology like 5G, but some say D.C. area jurisdictions needed the next-generation technology anyway to keep up with the region’s growing digital demands.
The antenna devices themselves are about the size of a backpack, Wentland said, and are sometimes installed together with an equipment box the size of a refrigerator.
Upgrading America’s digital highways with 5G faces other roadblocks as well: the tech is currently caught up with President Trump’s trade war with China, as well as the legal battle over T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger.
The next-generation tech is already up and running in several cities depending on your mobile carrier.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
A former ABC News producer whose Columbia Pike apartment was raided by the FBI last year has been sentenced. James Gordon Meek, 53, pleaded guilty in July to transportation and…
Metrorail service was suspended on the Blue and Yellow lines today after a train derailed.
4 bedroom 3 bath 2 car garage 1/4 acre Jamestown Williamsburg Yorktown pyramid
At Generation Hope, we’re dedicated to supporting teen parents in college as they work toward earning their degrees. We are in need of caring child care volunteers for upcoming events on Saturday, October 21st (in Washington, DC), and Saturday, November 4th (in Arlington, VA). Join our growing volunteer community and support us at an event this fall!
At all of our events, we provide free onsite child care for the children of the teen parents we serve, creating a nurturing environment for the kiddos while their parents learn valuable life skills and build community.
If you enjoy working with children and are looking to make an immediate impact in your community, please visit https://www.generationhope.org/volunteer to learn more.
Join us for Arlington’s biggest civil rights & social justice event of the year. The banquet is back in person at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University.
Our keynote speaker this year is Symone Sanders from MSNBC and former Chief of Staff for Vice-President Kamala Harris.
The Master of Ceremonies is Joshua Cole, former state delegate, NAACP President, and local pastor.
Tickets/seating are limited. Purchase your ticket today! Sponsorship opportunities available.
Cody Chance and Dick Nathan of Long & Foster are hosting an online workshop on the topic of “down-sizing” Wednesday, October 4 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Every great endeavor begins with a great plan. This workshop will give you the tools