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5G Comes to New Orleans

12:00 August 07, 2020
By: Graham Andreae

While a number of new technologies have come and gone in the last 20 years, there have been few as intriguingly complicated as the installation of 5G cell towers in the French Quarter. The new towers should increase cell phone speeds, but only outdoors. The problem behind the technology is that it does not penetrate walls, which would mean that French Quarter businesses would not see the benefit of this proposed new technology. This is part of the reason why these businesses fought cell service providers on the introduction of bulky poles to provide cell service in the (normally) very crowded streets in the Quarter. These new towers would be far larger than previous ones, thus becoming an eyesore with minimal benefit to residents, workers, and business-owners within the Vieux Carré.

After a concerted effort by the community, as well as negotiations, the service providers redesigned the poles to a minimalized version intended to look more like French Quarter streetlamps. The service providers began to put the towers in place on July 30. WWL spoke to Ken Caron, who said, "We're a 300-year-old neighborhood. We want to keep that character."

Caron went on to say that the appeal of the French Quarter did not lie in new technology, but in its rich culture. The change in design is a direct result of the work of civic groups such as VCPORA (Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents, and Associates) and the French Quarter Business Association, who objected to the new poles' original design.

The towers will increase the speed of wireless service for those walking the streets.

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