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If the internet is an information superhighway, 5G users are riding in the fastest lane. Fresno residents with 5G devices can surf the web, download movies, play online games, and even participate in the now-dreaded Zoom meetings without delay or lagging.

Councilman Miguel Arias said he found it “troubling” that the sites permitted thus far are primarily in northern and eastern neighborhoods.

But your access to 5G could depend on your ZIP code.

According to a database of city permits for Verizon 5G cell antenna sites provided to GV Wire by the city of Fresno, the majority so far are in the northeast and east-central parts of the city. The database shows that areas such as downtown, southeast, and southwest Fresno are veritable deserts for city permits for Verizon 5G sites.

(GV Wire interactive map/Jesse Buglione)

That wasn’t what the Fresno City Council intended when it signed contracts enabling wireless companies to lease city property for cell antenna sites. City officials had made a point of affirming that the 5G antenna sites should be spread out across Fresno so there would be equity of access for all residents.

Councilman Miguel Arias said he found it “troubling” that the sites permitted thus far are primarily in northern and eastern neighborhoods.

“Every conversation we had with Verizon and AT&T was about it being citywide,” he said.

Digital Divide Even Wider

The digital divide already is wide in Fresno, and that gap widens further when the newest technology goes first into neighborhoods that are already well-served, Arias said.

AT&T has not yet obtained permits for its transmitters, and the locations will remain confidential until then, city spokeswoman Sontaya Rose said Tuesday. While Verizon has obtained permits for hundreds of 5G antenna locations, having a permit does not mean the equipment has been installed, she said.

“While the City can encourage equity, the City cannot enforce equity, therefore, the agreements do not require equity, however, staff is working with both companies on the equity issue.” — City of Fresno spokeswoman Sontaya Rose

The city of Fresno’s goal of equity for the location of 5G equipment is just that — a goal, not a mandate — Rose said.

“While the City can encourage equity, the City cannot enforce equity, therefore, the agreements do not require equity, however, staff is working with both companies on the equity issue,” she said in an email.

Verizon’s West Coast spokeswoman, Heidi Flato, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning. In an email to GV Wire on Tuesday afternoon, Flato said the company will continue to build its 5G service across Fresno over the next couple of years, “working to cover the city overall with a mix of 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Nationwide service.”

Leasing City Property

5G technology uses different parts of the radio spectrum and needs numerous cell antennas to provide coverage. The city signed deals that allow Verizon and AT&T to put a total of 1,000 5G small cell antenna in neighborhoods — 500 for each company — by renting space on neighborhood light poles or other spots. Other companies have been talking to the city about installing their own small cell equipment.

Mark Standriff, the city’s former spokesman, told GV Wire last year that the companies are starting in neighborhoods with slower speeds because of higher demand but then would move into lower-income neighborhoods. But some of the city’s wooden light poles would need to be replaced first, he said at the time.

The demand for expanded broadband capacity continues to grow as more homes and businesses have connected devices. 5G also will be integral for autonomous (self-driving) vehicles.

Verizon announced last month that its Ultra Wideband 5G was launching in four more cities, including parts of Fresno, bringing the total number of connected cities to 71.

3 Responses

  1. Cathy Caples

    “While the city can encourage equity it can’t enforce it”. Really? Perhaps the City can only sign lease agreements for locations that are equitably distributed across the City.

    Reply
  2. Jerry Duncan

    Verizon is lying. The 5G Ultra is not active in NE Fresno as of today. I’ve stood directly under several transmitters that their map says are 5G Ultra and there is no 5G signal. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself.

    Reply
  3. Billy

    Miguel Arias Mendota native is always looking for any excuse to assault Fresno especially North Fresno. He errors in thinking that North Fresno is all white conservative “Trumpsters” . Arias should spend his time and energy improving his district, people have been hit hard economically in his district, businesses closed , homeless vagrants setting fires everywhere while Arias is busy throwing gasoline on KMJ Radio, Fresno independent businesses with Code Enforcement disproportionately going after businesses North of Shaw. Miguel Arias even directed his socialist activists or what they like to call themselves “Community Activists” to report people to FBI and constantly attacks American values and the Constitution . We all know Miguel hates Fresno and America but he could try to be more public service oriented and serve the people instead of his ridiculous low class anti-American divisions by Race, Religion and Political party.
    Fresno District 3 people, this criminal who lied about his address in District 3 will be up for re-election soon . Those that complain about him , now is the chance to identify great solid candidates that love America and love Fresno. Even someone who actually LIVES in District 3 .
    Send Arias packing he is bad for District 3 and bad for Fresno.

    Reply

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