BELMAR — Representatives from Verizon Wireless presented to the borough a plan to put 5G cellular nodes along Ocean Avenue, a move that would boost bandwidth and cellular capacity at the beachfront which in the past has been lacking.
Verizon Wireless proposes to install 21 nodes along Ocean Avenue, which an engineer for Verizon Wireless said would help to take pressure off the borough’s “overloaded” cellular infrastructure.
The proposal is still in its beginning stages, and the borough is still discussing an ordinance limit on the height of nodes. The borough currently has some poles, such as on borough hall and on top of a hotel on Ocean Avenue, but representatives from Verizon told members of the council and the public that more infrastructure is needed at the shore as data usage increases.
Greg Meese, an attorney of the firm Price, Meese, Shulman & D’Arminio working for Verizon Wireless, said that the company has been in contact with the borough to install small wireless facilities along Ocean Avenue to “address capacity issues that occur in Belmar during the summertime.”
“Certainly it is no surprise to any of you that in the summertime there is a lot more activity along Ocean Avenue and on the beach,” he said, adding that Verizon Wireless has received complaints from local police departments that they “are overloaded during the summertime.”
The 21 nodes being proposed by Verizon will take pressure off of the currently existing macrocell, which provide cellular service over a large area. There are four macrocells sites in the nearby area, one in the West Belmar section of Wall, one in Belmar and another near the border of Avon-By-The-Sea and Bradley Beach and another in Spring Lake.
“These nodes will offload the macros and thus allow the macros to breathe and give better coverage and better service inland,” said Abdullah Ahmed, an engineer for Verizon.
The bulk of network usage takes place in the summer, starting on Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day, he added.
According to Mr. Ahmed, the nodes will provide 4G and 5G cellular coverage.
There are two different node options, but both are limited in height to 30 feet. Both options are meant to blend in with the surroundings, taking the appearance of light poles which would have radio equipment installed at the base of the pole and the antenna at the top. Either poles would be installed at every block along Ocean Avenue.
Andew Petersohn, a radio frequency engineer, tried to debunk some myths regarding the proposed 5G nodes, presenting a fact sheet to members of the council and the public debunking myths associated with 5G coverage, including health concerns.
“From an exposure perspective, there is a cumulative effect however it is not as if the presence of the small cells and the macrosite will somehow create an exposure environment that is unsafe,” he said.
Jerry Dasti, the borough’s attorney, said the borough is preparing an ordinance to regulate cell towers and nodes.
“We need an ordinance so that our planning board can be certain, when they apply for site plan approval, that it would comply with what we want,” he said. “The ordinance would recommend collators so that we don’t have three different companies at three different poles burning out Ocean Avenue.”
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