Council calls for more 5G research, but extends AT&T franchise
The City Council took two contradictory votes Wednesday about the 5G wireless technology that is being rolled out in Portland and other cities across the country.
First, the council unanimously approved a resolution calling for the Federal Communications Commission to study the health hazards of 5G technology. The resolution introduced by Commissioner Amanda Fritz said the FCC has not studied such risks, even though studies compiled and released by the European Union found cancer and other risks.
Then the council approved a new 10-year franchise for operating in the city. AT&T is one of several telecommunications working to bring 5G to Portland. The vote for 4 to 1, with only Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty voting against it.
Mayor Ted Wheeler noted the contridictions between the two measures, but said the council had no choice. Federal law and FCC rules prevent states, counties and cities from operating in their boundaries.
"We lack the authority to regulate these technologies for health and safety reasons, but of course we need to have more research." said Wheelers.
Wheeler said the AT&T franchise deal was better for Portland than the guidelines set by the federal government, especially for their 5G technologies. For example, Portland is charging AT&T a franchise fee of $1,250 per small cell tower, compared to under $300 per tower set by the FCC.
Portland is the only city that has gone to federal court so far to challenge a recent FCC order prevent jurisdiction from blocking small cell towers on public property.
The vote followed impassioned testimony from the founder, faculty members and others at the Oregon Institute for Creative Research, a Portland-based nonprofit organization. They said the OICR had recently held a workshop on the existing research into 5G health issues. They were disturbed to find how little exists, but that most of has found risks to animals, insects and people.