Debate heats up over cellphone towers harnessing 5G service in Milwaukee County

MILWAUKEE -- Cellphone towers may soon line Milwaukee's lakefront to make way for the next generation of wireless technology.

At a county board committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 10, members discussed the impact of these devices -- called small cell wireless facilities. Wireless companies want to install hundreds of those towers across Wisconsin ahead of rolling out 5G wireless service.

In 2018, the FCC rules the local governments do not have much power to regulate where the towers are placed -- or how much municipalities can charge carriers.

"So what I'm hearing is that these cellphone companies are going to profit exponentially on the placement of these towers, while taxpayers dollars will basically go toward profiting toward them even more," said Milwaukee County Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman.

"Are we going to have poles all over the place? Our parks are going to be turned into pole after pole after pole with little cans on top? This is very worrisome," said Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson. "We talk about the impact on the environment all day long."

Tuesday's meeting was informational only. No action was taken.