At the City Council meeting
on Monday, Sept. 23, Rosana Ferrante from ExteNet Systems responded to
questions about the company’s petition to install small-cell antennas on 10
utility poles along five city streets with the goal of expanding T-Mobile
The exact locations of the
proposed sites are 431, 573 and 642 Broadway; 141 Chelsea St.; 45, 180, 275 and
493 Ferry St.; 301 Main St. and 132 Union St.. The initial 10 sites are part of
a larger vision that would include 41 sites throughout the city. The
installations would only benefit customers of the T-Mobile cellular network.
Headquartered in Illinois,
ExteNet provides communications infrastructure to major cell providers in order
to help them meet the increasing wireless connectivity needs of their
customers. Small cells consist of radio equipment and antennas that are
attached to utility poles and streetlights and are used to transmit data to and
from wireless devices. Unlike the cell towers found on rooftops and along
highways, small cells are installed every few blocks.
“Instead of going bigger,
it’s getting smaller and closer to the customer,” said Ferrante.
According to the Cellular
Telecommunications Industry Association, small cell technology is expected to
explode in coming years, from 13,000 units in 2017 to 800,000 by 2026. This
year alone saw a 550 percent increase in small cell installations, which are
regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
With a copy of the petition
in hand, Councilors expressed concern on a number of fronts, including
appearance, potential health risks, precedent, and benefit to Everett
Councilors Fred Capone and
Wayne Matewsky requested to see one of the cells in person before voting.
“There are things the size
of refrigerators on top of poles on Elm Street and Abbott Avenue,” said
Councilor Matewsky. “I wouldn’t want this in front of my house.”
He also mentioned he was concerned
about potential radiation coming from the small cells.
“I want to know what the
health hazards are,” he said. “I don’t need [radiation] affecting my health.”
Ferrante explained that
ExteNet complies with the emissions regulations set by the FCC.
“It’s important that the
public know that this is a low radiation threat,” she said.
But Councilor Rosa DiFlorio
was still wary.
“How much radiation is
really coming out?” she asked. “Because I think that a little bit here and
there adds up to a lot.”
The councilwoman also
worried that saying yes to T-Mobile would set a precedent for other wireless
behemoths like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon to descend on the city asking
“They’re all going to be
coming in,” she said.
The city of Palo Alto, California,
is all too familiar with this scenario. It was recently forced to overhaul its
cell antenna rules after being flooded with applications from wireless
companies seeking to install cell antennas throughout the city.
Councilor DiFlorio argued
that this was not a decision to be taken lightly and that she wanted Council to
have the chance to research how other cities have approached the issue before
“We don’t want slow phones,”
she said. “But we have to do a study and see what other cities are doing.”
Councilor Peter Napolitano
requested that ExteNet provide data on the number of T-Mobile customers in
“It’s important to know how
many of our residents would actually benefit from this,” he said.
ExteNet originally applied
for approval for the small cell installations in Everett on August 29. FCC
guidelines stipulate that the project must be approved within 60 days from
application. Ferrante said the company is willing to cooperate with the City in
order to reach the deadline.
Council ultimately decided
that the petition warranted closer examination before bringing the matter to a
vote. The petition was moved to the next meeting of the Committee of the Whole
where the Council will thoroughly review all 41 proposed sites. Representatives
from ExteNet as well as the City’s Legal Department will also be invited to