Idaho Dispatch

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Op-Ed: 15 Minute City Concept Continued: 5G in Boise – Is the City of Boise Listening to the People, or the FCC? Virtual Reality, What?

By • March 31, 2023

Let’s talk 5G. A responder in this series requested more information on this topic. With surprise, 5G has been talked about in the City of Boise and Ada County for a few years now. Ada County Commissioners have denied cell towers in Star, ID and Eagle, ID. Uniquely, the Mayor of Eagle wants to implement fiber optic broadband. It would be considered a public utility, not privately owned. This opportunity will provide faster, safer, and more affordable internet. Some internet competitors block waves and slow down speeds, driving up costs. This approach will help protect the consumer.

Let’s look at the City of Boise. There were articles about this from KTVB and BoiseDev back in 2021 and 2022. However, it all started in 2018 when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prohibited municipalities from imposing excessive regulations on 5G wireless carriers. Many cities sued. These towers rely on short-range transmissions requiring more cell towers for connection. With the questionable health risks and short range between towers, the quantity alone raises alarm bells.

Unlike Eagle, ID with fiber optics, the City of Boise is more interested in the wireless approach. The City of Boise changed the approval process for these towers by converting to the FCC guidelines. They chose to end public comment by becoming federally compliant. The City Council didn’t want the public to think that they could object to a 5G tower in their neighborhood. Instead, there will be notices from the internet provider rather than notices from the city. In a tower build, the only thing the city requires is restored landscaping.

Ultimately, this will be publicly funded, yet privately owned. This is a big red flag! The Boise City Mayor also has a vision to connect all the city parks with free public Wi-Fi. Specifically, the parks in downtown Boise like Julia Davis and Ann Morrison. First off, when you go to a park, isn’t it to escape the grid? Secondly, the idea for free public Wi-Fi within the parks is for convenience. It will help vendors who need Wi-Fi at events within the parks. This eliminates the need for IT companies to set up and tear down towers at one day events. Thirdly, there will be interactive resource opportunities within the parks with virtual reality. No more need for paper guides. Too far back from the concert or fireworks? Put on your VR goggles and, BAM, you’re close. Taking it a step further, why go outside and get sunshine when you can virtually visit events at the park from your home? This so-called convenience is really going to limit human outside interaction and fulfilling experiences.

Is this plan to make Boise a Mecca of Wi-Fi consisting of dangerous cell towers just another part of the 15-minute city concept? Notice that the FCC registered towers are concentrated in Boise. Nampa and Caldwell don’t have any. Outlying areas have a few, but not like Boise.

With a fiber optic broadband network, it would be publicly funded and owned. These towers would be publicly funded and owned by private companies. By reducing the wireless towers, fiber optic will be safer from potential health risks. Let’s get out and enjoy Boise, not be tied to our internet. More to come.

Authors: Christi Warhurst and Jackie Davidson

This Op-Ed was submitted by Christi Warhurst. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

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Tags: 15 Minute City, 15 Minute Neighborhood, 5G, Boise, Caldwell, Cell Towers, City of Boise, Eagle, FCC, Fiber Optic, Internet, Nampa, Smart City, Star, Wireless, Wireless Harm

6 thoughts on “Op-Ed: 15 Minute City Concept Continued: 5G in Boise – Is the City of Boise Listening to the People, or the FCC? Virtual Reality, What?

  1. Great article. Thank you for covering this. In the future, it would be great to see an article that addresses the horrible health hazard these antennas have on all life in the Treasure Valley. Check out the Bio-initiative report 2012. These towers are deadly. Our media needs to start exposing them for what they are truly. They are military grade weapons. This is not an exaggeration. The research is conclusive. The government and industry are hiding the truth. Thanks again for this article. I look forward to many more to come from ID Dispatch!! Boise will not be safe until every last one of these antennas are removed from our city and the macro towers are scaled back and placed in less condensely populated areas.

  2. I’m not surprised that the first reply to this has to do with the supposed damage to one’s health that 5G causes. Nothing is conclusive, yet. All that has a very long way to go to be proven, but that isn’t the point of this article.

    Facts are that NO ONE besides land use planners (city councils and county commission) can decide on which vehicle to utilize to implement 5G (meaning wireless or fiber). There are several fiber optic firms knocking at the doors in Ada County, specifically TDS and GOOGLE. I know this because ACHD must license each and every one if they intend to use the right of way involving roads, which they do. Others will come as well. There will be licensing agreements signed between the participating entities that will govern all aspects of construction and maintenance. Agreements are currently in place for the small cells that you see on the mast arms of ACHD traffic signals. Those come at a cost to the cell providers (in the case of the small cells, Verizon). ACHD did so well negotiating the fees associated with the first master agreement that someone whined to the FCC and ACHD was forced to lower the fees, lessing the profitability to Ada County taxpayers.

    ACHD is currenty doing their best to build fiber optic housing into their projects so as to minimize the amount of times your infrastructure will have to be dug up. So far, the 2 largest players in the fiber optic world here in Ada County have not agreed to follow growth with their installations, but, rather, install anywhere they wish, any time they wish and claim “constitutional rights” to do so. Those players also wish to install the fiber cables only 6″ below the surface. These are the same arguments given for all the development/utility construction projects tearing up the roads virtually on a whim. ACHD is working on an ordinance to follow along with the “Dig Once” statute passed past year by the Legislature. I hope something halfway reasonable can be developed for you, the public, to discuss before implementation.

    Oh, BTW, Ammon, Idaho has done what I hear is a bang-up job on the installation of 5G in their city. Also, a wireless solution n the city of Boise would cost only a small fraction of what fiber would cost. Yes, fiber is the better quality solution but installation would require tearing up the streets once again at a cost of many, many millions of extra dollars to the public.

    I’m happy to discuss the non-land use planning issues connected to this with anyone who would like to reach out. You can connect to me via the ACHD website.

  3. I think Mayor McLean should look at the lawsuits that were brought to court in the city of Golden Colorado in the late nineties when children on the front range who lived in a community in close proximity to a large array of Cell Phone towers were contracting cancer at an alarming rate. Those who don’t think these radio waves are not dangerous should do a lot more homework.

  4. There is plenty of information on youtube talking about the dangers of cell towers, even before the 5G. The people that are installing them are wearing hazmat suites-why? If they are not dangerous to health…Has anyone else noticed the fake pine trees that are actually cell towers there is a good example on Federal Way, why are they being disguised as trees? lol

  5. I would like to know if anything has changed since last year since this article is almost 1 year old? I live in Boise and would like to get involved if anyone can tell me how. Thank you!

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