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Faster 5G coming to Utah with small cell antennas

Small mobile antennas would be placed on existing poles or possibly poles of their own.

SALT LAKE CITY — Faster 5G wireless service is coming to Utah, with the help of new small cell antennas that will be popping up in neighborhoods soon.

SLC City Engineer Matthew Cassel says several cities along the Wasatch Front have been asked by cell phone carriers to be able to put these small antennas up soon. According to Cassell, they would be in the right of way, meaning by sidewalks or in intersections.

“For the most part you won’t see them once they go in, they are small,” Cassel says. “They may be put on light poles, or power poles, maybe their own poles if there’s no other pole for them to use,” said Cassel.

The state passed a bill this year allowing for this to happen starting this fall, and now cities are updating their codes and permitting process.

Cassel says the benefits include faster data streaming and no interruptions, but cities don’t have much say in management. For example, he says there are still questions about power and fiber optics demands.

“For the most part, this is a good thing for the community, but not necessarily for management. From our management perspective it may become problematic,” said Cassel.

State Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, sponsored the new law that allows the antennas to be placed, saying 5G gives us much greater wireless capacity and higher speeds.

“So for things like autonomous cars and video streaming that want that robust wireless, we’ve got to have this new technology,” said Bramble.