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Installation of 5G towers in Harrisburg raises concerns, though, not much can be done to prevent it

One neighbor has complained that the pole in front of his house blocks the view of the Susquehanna River. Others say installation is noisy and hinders traffic.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — "What right does an independent company have to interfere with public services?" questioned Alexander Clark of Harrisburg.

Clark is raising concerns over the 5G Verizon poles raised near his house on the 1400 block of Front Street.

"If they upgraded this to 5G at the cost of however many hours of people's productivity... how is that a service that should've been provided?" he added.

He says the tower's installation shut down one lane of the busy street, and that closure caused traffic troubles. He adds, it wasn't a quiet project either.

"Especially since COVID, a lot of people are working from home. If it's going to interrupt someone's work day, I think the city should be financially liable for that," said Clark.

People can find some of the towers in the downtown area, at the Capitol Complex, and on residential streets. In total, 120 will be installed.

"Verizon Wireless has done enough deployments to know if they ask permission from adjacent property owners to place these, there would be 100 no's and the federal FCC agreement kind of gives them the authority to do it anywhere," explained Wayne Martin, the city engineer.

According to Martin, the city doesn't have much control over where the poles go. Harrisburg is financially benefiting though. As part of the agreement, Verizon is replacing existing street lights with the poles that incorporate the 5G antennas. Each unit brings the city a $100 start-up fee, and an additional $270 dollars per year.

"I don't know the right answer, but I'll do whatever I can to not diminish the value of their property," added Martin. "The FCC order does restrict what we can do. So far, Verizon has been cooperative with any asks, and say we get a pole moved, that doesn't mean AT&T won't want to put one there."

Clark believes just giving neighbors notice would make them feel less frustrated about the poles. Currently, there is no formal requirement in the agreement for notification.

According to Martin, local communities can only reroute an installation if it restricts sidewalk access, breaks into an accessible pedestrian route, or triggers ADA upgrades.

FOX43 reached out to Verizon after hearing from neighbors.

"We spend a great deal of time with each community to take into account unique needs while engineering the best possible network. As part of this process, our engineers study existing data traffic and anticipated need to determine placement for small cells," stated Chris Serico, Employee Communications & Consumer Public Relations Manager.

Serico adds, a study conducted by Verizon in partnership with Morning Consult found that 90 percent of homebuyers prioritize fast reliable home internet and good cellular service when looking for a home. 

Serico says the study revealed that access to high-speed home internet and fast, reliable cell service at home is a must-have for home buyers. Nearly 8-in-10 American home buyers surveyed believe 5G home internet and access to a 5G cell network increased a home’s value.

According to the company's website, "The benefits of 5G should not be understated—especially when you consider the importance of 5G technology. 5G will pave the way for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. It will change the way we do business and the way we live, work and play."

The company states the benefits of a fast network go beyond downloading videos and games. It cites the potential benefits for use of networks amongst first responders.

According to Verizon, 5G Ultra Wideband network offers speeds of approximately 1 Gbps and latency of less than 30 milliseconds which it claims is 23 milliseconds faster than 4G cellular technology. It states, "Critical information will be accessible to public safety and healthcare providers much more seamlessly with 5G."

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