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A Weekly Online Publication of the Anonymous Anything Society —  March 14, 2018


    The latest wave of cellular systems is upon us. It is called "5G," and it has to do with the fifth generation of cellular technology. 

    When cellular telephones came into being in the early 1980s, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that the existing landline telephone companies would be the first to get permission to operate these new wireless systems.

    We all know now that to be viable (very low power transmitters at ultra high frequencies are tied together by a bank of computers using microwave systems), cellular systems need numerous locations for their sites. The coverage area of each of these "cell sites"" is small. Mobile and handheld radio telephones can be seamlessly "handed off" from cell to cell as one travels from the coverage area of one cell into the coverage area of other cell sites.

    The various civic bodies representing us apparently did not realize the landscapes in our communities were about to be so heavily impacted and those corporations which had gained a license or whose corporation hoped to get a competing cellular system license from the FCC, had no intention of educating us about the need for such a multitude of towers to be erected in order for several cellular systems such as AT&T, Cricket, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, etc. to compete, each needing a network of antennae, each attached near the top of highest allowable towers. Some cellular systems share the same tower. (Towers themselves do not radiate. They merely support the antennae, both cellular vertical "sticks" and the microwave dishes that exchange microwave signals between sites).

    Mountain Bell did not hesitate to get the best cell site in the Tucson area up and running. One Friday evening, a crew of "Ma Bell" workman appeared on a heavily populated high point north of the riverbed marking the Tucson City limits. By the time the sun went down Sunday, a giant tower, with a score of vertical cellular antennae and numerous dish antennae attached near the top, had risen next to a built-up area with scores of condominium owners and a band of small businesses near a major Arizona state highway and a short distance outside Tucson's corporate boundary. It had been built when County Offices were closed, on an easement owned by Mountain Bell usually occupied by power poles.

    Other than being unsightly, if it falls for any reason, the mammoth tower could crush anything within its shadow. You can imagine the consternation  of property owners when they walked out into their yards and into their businesses and looked up at it.

    The next day, the Pima County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance forbidding any more monstrous cellular towers like the one on North Oracle Road (Arizona highway 77) at Roller Coaster Road—in case you ever wish to view it.

    Instead, there are now dozens of cellular antennae operating from much less imposing structures in and around Tucson—some disguised as the giant green cacti, unique to southern Arizona. 

    THE BAD NEWS: In January, 2018, President Donald Trump signed an executive order permitting  companies with power poles in urban and suburban, as well as rural areas, to install the new 5G Cellular systems on their existing poles and erect even more poles and towers where needed.

    HOW THIS IS GOING TO AFFECT YOU: If it is not overturned, this presidential order limits local and state governments from having a say over where the 5G towers are to be located or how they will look; even how much property owners can charge cellular companies if they wish to rent apace for a tower in existing property owners' back yards.

    WHO LOVES THIS? Power Companies. They already have the poles and easements.

    The FCC says this new proliferation of cellular hardware on the landscape promises to expand cellular coverage enormously, as well as provide opportunities for more cellular investment, and jobs. On the other hand, I believe it is bound to further affect the aesthetics of many— if not most neighborhoods. You few readers are probably among the first to know about this. You might do well by passing this forecast on to others in various, including  federal, state, county and municipal jurisdictions and in particular, your Representatives and Senators in Washington.

-Phil Richardson, Observer of the Human Condition and Storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself."—Joseph Menchen

Our unending thanks to Jim Bromley, who programs our Archive of Prior Commentaries

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