New 5G Wi-Fi Wave Speeds Up the Town–But at a Street Cost

By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the matrix of telephone masts and underground cables around town is not adequate to deal with current Wi-Fi needs, never mind the future.

Brown outs and dropped calls are part of the unique Palisadian experience.

But a glimpse of a more useful web called 5G was unveiled at the Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting on Thursday, May 24, by one of the nation’s largest internet infrastructure companies, Texas-based Crown Castle International Corp.

It came with a vision not only of refrigerators addressing cars about future shopping stops (aka “the internet of things”) and more reliable streaming and data services, but also a vista of poles popping up on picturesque streets, played out against a dark background of multinational telecom rivalries.

Michael Cintron,  Crown Castle government relations executive, said he was speaking to the council to take the temperature of the community about a new generation of sidewalk transmitters on behalf of its client AT&T.

This would involve five new poles and three additions to existing LADWP poles probably being erected next year, after planning processes.

Blue: New aerial fiber on DWP poles
Red: New underground Fiber
Yellow: Existing aerial fiber
Pink: Existing underground fiber
Map courtesy of Crown Castle

Cintron showed the council a small, suitcase-sized radio receiver, which would be paired with a larger, bucket-shaped omni-directional transmitter that could be remodeled to blend into local architecture: The examples in Mission Hills looked aesthetically different from the arrays proposed for Palos Verdes, even if they did the same job.

The exact locations have not been buttoned down, but these are the general locations for the new poles under consideration by Crown Castle:

– 14959 Camarosa Drive

– 741 Ocampo Drive

– 14901 Ramos Place

– 600 N Toyota Drive

– 14801 PCH

And the LADWP additions would be at:

– 14721 Bestor Blvd.

– 1290 Monument St.

– 15321 West Friends St.

It remains unclear whether this 5G network—top speed 20 GB per second rather than the current 100 MG per second—would saturate “outlier” areas such as The Highlands.

Area representative David Kaplan, who represents residents between Temescal and Chautauqua, said he would be leading a party to the locations to check out their suitability.

Area Representative Reza Akef, who worked as a telecoms “location scout” before he became a family home developer, asked whether the Crown Castle poles could be shared with 5G rivals.

If not, Akef warned, a planning precedent was being set for many more duplicate poles across the Palisades in the future as they caught up.

Federal legislation urged infrastructure builders to consider sharing, but not mandate it, and, Akef feared, AT&T is unlikely to want to throw away potential commercial advantage in the Palisades by playing nice with others.

Cintron said they would look at the issue, but such a decision might rest with their client AT&T.

Crown Castle won plaudits from the council for sharing blueprints amid a recognition that Palisadians are going to want more from the internet—but that will come with a cost.