NYC Sidewalks Get Futuristic 5G Towers; Locals Startled by Updates
By: Hellen Zaboulani
The corner of Putnam and Bedford Avenues in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn just got a futuristic 5G tower installed.
As per the NY Times, the gray 32-foot-tall tower, column is encased with a perforated casing. The structure is hard to miss, slightly surpassing the three-story brick buildings on the block. The new hardware is the newest installation by LinkNYC– a new 5G antenna tower. But locals say they had no idea it was coming. “We were shocked because we had no idea what it was,” said Marion Little, who owns a nearby hardware store. He told the paper, that people keep asking him about it, as it’s right outside his store. “They’ve been emailing me, calling me weekends, Facebooking me, like, ‘Yo, what’s that?’ and I’m sitting there like, ‘I have no clue.’”
The city of New York has an agreement with CityBridge, which owns LinkNYC, which calls on the consortium to install 2,000 of these new 5G towers over the next several years. About ninety percent of the new towers will be installed in underserved areas of the city —in an effort to help put an end to the city’s “internet deserts.” The towers are coming to neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and above 96th Street in Manhattan. Once the towers are activated, locals will have access to 5G cell phone service, free digital calling and free high-speed Wi-Fi. Many of the towers will be placed at previously pay phone locations.
As per the Times, the towers have not yet been activated, but together with the fiber cables underground, they will make up an infrastructure that carriers including AT&T and Verizon can use to give improved service to customers. As per NYC’s Office of Technology and Innovation, roughly 40 percent of NYC households lack the combination of home and mobile broadband. This amounts to 18 percent of residents —or over 1.5 million people.
So, while the new towers are probably good news for many people, as of now a lot of locals are not thrilled to have the large structures in their close vicinity. Neighbors have complained about having their views obstructed and expressed fears of buses colliding with the oversized structures. The towers have even been called a “monstrosity”, by a resident in Manhattan’s Chinatown, where a new tower was installed on the corner of Mulberry and Bayard Streets. “Who wants to look at something like that?” asked the unimpressed resident.
Residents were also concerns about the safety of permanently being in such close proximity to the new 5G poles and antennas. “People say that it is safe; the F.C.C. says it’s safe and everything,” said Chelsea Formica, an Upper East Side resident, who now has a large antenna and box installed by her infant’s window. “We’re just worried that it’s so close to my son’s bedroom.” She told the NY Times she is trying to petition to get the equipment moved across the street, so it’s not near a residential building.
Officials have said there is no need for concern.
Alex Wyglinski, the associate dean of graduate studies and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said that 5G is non-ionizing radiation. This means that these rays are unlike UV rays and X-rays, which are ionizing rays and can be harmful to people. “This will get integrated into the cityscape,” he added,regarding the seemingly protruding aesthetics of the towers.