Western Springs is in the process of negotiating a settlement with a wireless provider who had threatened them with legal action if they did not cooperate with proposed 5G antennas. This situation began last year when Houston-based Crown Castle submitted an application for a test 5G antenna that many locals strongly objected to, prompting the village to list out what it perceived as multiple deficiencies in the proposed plan. The state and federal governments have ultimate control over 5G equipment and towns do not have a right to regulate any health aspects associated with them. This has been an issue for many residents of Western Springs as this technology can come with potential risks to public health and safety, depending on who you ask. Despite this concern, AT&T might eventually come around to the village but T-Mobile has given no indication that it would be doing so. Some resolution appears likely soon though, as the Village Board is expected to discuss the proposed settlement as early as its March 13 meeting.
It’s important to note that while this matter may soon come to some conclusion, it could potentially set a precedent for other municipalities who find themselves in similar situations regarding 5G technology installation. It appears if such companies try getting around local regulations by applying directly at the state or federal level then, depending on the result of this negotiation between Western Springs and its potential wireless provider, their efforts may be thwarted. In any case, we will have to wait until March 13th for more information about how this particular matter will be resolved. And it remains uncertain whether the village board will accede to all of the demands from Crown Castle or insist on different conditions before negotiation comes close to completion. Any way one looks at it this tense negotiation has become emblematic of a larger debate about municipal regulation in relation to 5G technology which is sure to continue into 2021 and beyond.
Regardless of the outcome, this situation has once again highlighted the need for clear and effective regulations about 5G technology to be implemented at both local and national levels. This will ensure that such issues do not have to come down to a conflict between municipalities and telecommunications companies, but rather are dealt with in an equitable way which respects the rights of both sides. As the use of 5G technology continues to spread, these issues will become ever more pressing and it is important that regulatory bodies take heed and ensure that all parties are treated fairly and with respect. In the meantime, however, we wait to see how this particular situation in Western Springs will be resolved.