The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed new rules that will sidestep any zoning codes. The rules will force cities to approve cell towers and DAS (distributed antenna systems) and will prohibit cities from stopping wireless companies from expanding existing sites. It’s a pre-emptive move by the cellular industry to make it easier for cell companies to put towers and antennas up wherever they want.
Why You Should Be Concerned
In Palo Alto, there are already 80 DAS antennas on utility poles. These are AT&T antennas. In some cities, other cell companies have piggybacked on existing cell towers and added additional DAS antennas to existing utility poles. Since there are multiple cell companies, this could mean that you’ll see these antennas from Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and others. Put up one antenna and three other companies may want to do the same thing.
There are no long-term studies that have been made on DAS antennas and how they might impact health or safety. The cell industry simply says, “they comply with FCC regulations.” There are no studies on how multiple antennas might impact health.
We don’t see any DAS antennas in Palo Alto outside any City Council member’s home. Why not? If they are perfectly safe, perhaps the top management employees in Palo Alto should have them installed on the utility poles outside their homes.
The image is of the cell tower in San Carlos at Heather (elementary) School. We notice that more antennas were added including an additional cluster of antennas on the hillside.
The Malibu Canyon Fire in 2007 was caused by an overloaded DAS antenna, burning over 3,836 acres, destroying 14 buildings and 36 cars. A fine of $14.5 million was assessed against the company that owned the antennas.
Cities need to consider how to deploy wireless communications in a safe, orderly and aestetically compatible manner.