Syracuse councilors question potential health risks from 5G

May 2, 2019

Verizon Wireless wants to deploy 5G smart cell technology in the city of Syracuse. City officials describe the potential of 5G as huge, doing things like enabling autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and enhanced broadband. But some are questioning whether there are any potential health risks from the new technology.

The Syracuse Common Council is debating the approval of a license agreement with Verizon to install small wireless facilities on the city’s streetlights. Mark Coon, a regulatory manager for Verizon, said the consensus of the health and scientific communities is that there are no known health effects from wireless equipment that operates under federal guidelines.

Mark Coon of Verizon Wireless, talks to Syracuse councilors, Wednesday.
Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

“Wireless technology for wireless communications transmits radio frequency signals over the airwaves, no different than your garage door opener, or a baby monitor or a Wi-Fi router in your home," Coon said. "5G is no different than 4G, is no different than any of the generations of wireless services, as far as that radio frequency transmission.”

But councilors said they have constituents telling them to vote no on the deal, over concerns about cancer. Councilors pointed to countries around the world and cities on the West Coast, banning 5G. Councilor Bryn Lovejoy-Grinnell said there are a lot of unknown health and safety risks.

“I think it’s worth exploring that further, because I don’t think we have a great view, at this point, what the consensus is," Lovejoy-Grinnell said. "We have an obligation to make sure that our citizens are safe and that this technology doesn’t pose a risk of danger to them.”

If the agreement does go through, Verizon could deploy 100 nodes in the first year on the southwest and northeast sides of the city. The council could vote on the deal or put it on hold, Monday.