By Nathan Worcester
Contractors are installing Verizon 5G infrastructure throughout the City of Chicago in some 600 locations, according to one contractor. Residents of Bridgeport and other neighborhoods have complained about the process, voicing concerns about the widespread sidewalk tear-up coming with no forewarning.
The Mayor’s Office did not respond to questions about the apparent lack of warnings or other notifications to homeowners. It also did not confirm whether other companies will be able to install 5G infrastructure or use the Verizon infrastructure or whether future 5G installations infrastructure will involve tearing up sidewalks. It also did not confirm the number of sites currently under construction throughout the city.
Victor Owoeye, the Mayor’s deputy press secretary, said in a statement, “The installation of 5G equipment on City poles is being done through Chapter 10-29 of the Municipal Code and CDOT [Chicago Department of Transportation] regulations issued to implement Chapter 10-29. Pursuant to the CDOT Regulations, permittees including Verizon and other wireless carriers, apply to CDOT when they want to install small cell equipment on City poles. A dedicated team at CDOT then reviews these applications and approves installation if the application meets requirements in the regulations. Small cell installation on City poles does often include installation of fiber and power supply adjacent to the light pole.”
“We launched our 5G network in April of 2019 in Chicago,” wrote David Weissman, communications manager for Verizon, in a statement. “Since that time we have grown the network to include more neighborhoods and have made technological advances in the network that have seen peak data speeds more than double since launch.
“The 5G Ultra Wideband network utilizes small cells, which are small transmitters that sit on top of poles or other existing infrastructure,” he continued. “We continue to apply for permits to expand the network which will benefit residents, businesses, and visitors as well as first responders. All of our network equipment is within FCC guidelines and we follow all local zoning related laws and requirements.”
Weissman stated that Verizon was not a proprietary 5G carrier in Chicago, noting, “Every carrier is building out their own networks… I don’t know if we’re the first or not.”
Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile are among the other carriers that have activated 5G coverage in the city.
Both CDOT’s statement and Verizon’s statement did not address the widespread drilling into neighborhood sidewalks.
When asked to comment, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) directed Gazette Chicago to the Mayor’s office.
Two contractors involved in installing the infrastructure, Meade Construction and Argo Construction, did not respond to requests for comment. Another, Cobra Concrete Cutting Services Co., declined to comment. A fourth contractor, John Burns Construction Co., had a full voicemail box and no other means of contact.
Aldermen Pat Dowell (3rd Ward), Sophia King (4th Ward), Patrick D. Thompson (11th Ward), George Cardenas (12th Ward), Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th Ward), Walter Burnett (27th Ward), Jason Ervin (28th Ward), and Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) did not respond to requests for comment.