Arizona Towns Reject 4G Services

Published October 19, 2010

Citing concerns over health risks and threats to property values, Peoria, Arizona residents blocked construction of a 4G cell tower in the city’s Longhorn and Crown Point neighborhoods. The service would have been the first 4G offered in Arizona.

Clearwire Communications proposed building a 65-foot wireless communications tower on property owned by a mortuary in the neighborhood. When community opposition reached fever pitch, Clearwire requested the Peoria city council table the proposal. Similar Clearwire plans also were denied in the Arizona cities Gilbert and Chandler. 

Protestors voiced concerns about the how the tower’s visible presence would affect home values in the community, and they conveyed fears the radio waves to and from the tower might prove carcinogenic. The Federal Communication Commission has given assurances wireless towers pose no health threat. 

“Well, it’s a free market. Find different land. That’s all I can say,” said John Head, director of enterprise collaboration for PSC Group, a business consulting firm based in Schaumburg, Illinois.

‘Too Good to Be True’
Clearwire Corp., based in Washington State, is among the first wireless providers implementing 4G LTE (meaning long-term evolution) in the United States. The company intended to place one tower in Peoria and planned on conducting other wireless technology testing in the Phoenix area.

In a press statement, Clearwire said its 4G LTE system likely would be faster than other companies’ 4 to 12 mbps 4G estimates. Currently, 3G networks supply about 1 to 2 mbps; 4G WiMax networks supply up to 12 mbps. Clearwire claims the ability to deliver 20 to 70 mbps speeds for 4G LTE.

Property Rights
“Whether there is a legitimate health concern or not, the community has a right and the responsibility to decide for themselves if they wish this type of technology to exist within its political boundaries,” said Andrew Richardson, a blogger and freelance technical advisor in Wapakoneta, Ohio.

“All politics are local, and the people, rightly or wrongly, reserve the right to govern their own zoning laws,” said Richardson.
Russell G. Harding, senior environmental analyst and director of the Property Rights Network for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and education institute based in Midland, Michigan, however, disagrees with Richardson’s assessment.

“Property rights are a bedrock principle of the United States,” Harding said. “But local zoning laws often don’t align with common sense on certain issues.”

‘Bad Science’
Harding, also a former director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, stated, “The citizens of Peoria may not want a tower in their city, but their reasons for not wanting it are based on bad science.”

Referring to FCC studies on health risks and cell towers, Harding said, “In this instance, outspoken Peoria residents are rejecting out-of-hand a technology that would provide great benefits with no recognizable downside. 

“There is no credible scientific evidence making a link between cell towers and cancer,” he said. “And there is absolutely no documentation of any adverse effects on public health, and the people protesting the Clearwire tower should be made to prove in court any detrimental impact the tower may introduce to their community.”

Krystle Russin ([email protected]) writes from Texas.

On the Internet:

“Clearwire Announces New 4G LTE Technology Trials Expected to Yield Unmatched Wireless Speeds in the U.S.”: