T-Mobile plans major expansion

T-Mobile is aggressively improving cell phone and mobile services in San Francisco, where it plans to nearly triple its antenna installations.

Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Clearwire recently filed five-year growth plans with The City, including proposed new telecommunication base stations.

The stations serve as antennas for cell phones and similar devices. They are often attached to buildings and light poles, camouflaged among other electrical equipment or hidden from view.

T-Mobile’s San Francisco expansion plans are more aggressive than those of its competitors.

Sprint doesn’t plan similar growth and it didn’t file plans, city planner Jonas Ionin said.

The new facilities will boost reception and services in a city famously fond of wireless technology, but they are causing angst among city officials and residents concerned about health effects.

City leaders are forging ahead with unrelated plans to require cell phone merchants to post warnings late this year about handsets’ cancer risks.

A report, requested Thursday by the Planning Commission, will outline antenna regulations adopted by other municipalities that could serve as models for new city legislation.

Federal law establishes antenna-radiation exposure standards to protect the public from doses that could cause cataracts, reduced fertility or other ailments.

If those standards are met, municipalities are prevented by the regulations from rejecting applications to install antennas based on health concerns.

Some permit applications needed for new antennas, however, have been rejected by the Board of Supervisors after they were opposed by neighbors concerned with the health aspect.

The applications were rejected after supervisors ruled that existing services satisfied demand.

Recently, the board unanimously rejected plans for a T-Mobile facility west of 17th Avenue on Taraval Street.

T-Mobile plans to increase its antennas from 582 to 1,530 citywide under the five-year plan.

“We’re building to cover areas that aren’t covered,” T-Mobile spokesman Rod Delarosa said. “We’re also bringing in third-generation services.”

jupton@sfexaminer.com

T-Mobile’s city coverage

582 Antennas in city at start of year
212 Antenna locations at start of year
948 New antennas planned over five years
124 New antenna locations planned

Source: Planning Department

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