RadLimits on Wireless Facilities

The following are excerpts of content from the 2022 RadLimits petition initiative focused on limiting wireless facility exposures. Keep in mind that by law a petition initiative must be isolated to one topic, or reducing radiation as here, and may not put forward other related topics such as protecting appearances.

If you have suggestions for improvement, please share. Your comments may not be posted as discussed here. However, just in case, please insert an asterisk (*) in front of your comment if you would like to have your comment publicly posted. To comment on other topics during the open time frame, please see other excerpted sections here.

Without limiting the right of municipalities to craft additional ordinance requirements, the following state-wide regulations shall be required for the operation of wireless facilities:

(a) Annual testing of wireless facility non-ionizing radiation shall be mandated, paid for by the operator of the wireless facility, with municipalities allowed to conduct additional testing at their own expense unless the wireless facility has failed to meet any relevant non-ionizing radiation state requirements or exceeded federal exposure guidelines, in which case testing shall be at the expense of the operator. The annual testing must be provided with a certification under penalty of perjury that the proposed facility, both individually and cumulatively with all other emitters that contribute more than five percent to the cumulative emissions in the vicinity (if any), will comply with federal exposure limits and any state requirements. The testing must be on-site and provide peak power and maximum peak power measurements. The report must be prepared and certified by an engineer acceptable to the municipality, and the testing time must, where possible, be kept secret from the operator. The report must include the actual frequency bands and power density (in volts per meter, watts effective radiated power and in DBM) for all existing and proposed antennas at the site and exhibits that show the location and orientation of all transmitting antennas and the boundaries of areas with exposures in excess of the uncontrolled/general federal exposure limit and the boundaries of areas in excess of the controlled/occupational federal exposure limit. Each such boundary shall be clearly marked and identified for every transmitting antenna at the project site.

(b) Wireless facility permittees must have the funds in escrow or the insurance to cover potential claims of harm from non-ionizing radiation. In addition to conventional insurance, the permittee shall procure and maintain at its expense or cause its contractor or subcontractor to procure and maintain throughout the term of the permit environmental pollution liability insurance in an amount not less than $2,000,000 per antenna that covers non-ionizing radiation pollution with respect to the wireless facility. The insurance must be obtained from an insurer licensed to do business in Massachusetts. The relevant policy shall name the municipality, its elected/appointed officials, commission members, officers, representatives, agents, volunteers, and employees as additional insureds. The permittee is to use its best efforts to notify the municipality of any modification to the policy or cancellation of the insurance policy within 30 days.

(c) The permittee shall provide original certificates and amendatory endorsements of copies of the applicable policy language providing insurance coverage required in subsection (b). All certificates and endorsements are to be received and approved by the municipality before any work commences, but failure to obtain documents prior to work shall not waive the licensee’s obligation to provide them. The permittee shall furnish updated certificates and endorsements to the municipality annually. The municipality shall have the right to require updated certificates and endorsements or complete, certified copies of the required insurance policies at any time.

(d) The permittee shall provide to the division of non-ionizing radiation described in chapter 25C the documents necessary for monitoring and mapping of data and permit the county engineer(s) to conduct random audits at all times at the wireless facility.

(e) An applicant for a wireless facility must provide substantial evidence for any claim of a significant gap in coverage or capacity deficiency, including for any carrier, and provide substantial evidence that the proposed facility would remedy any such gap. The evidence must include:

(1) For claims of a capacity deficiency or gap in service rendering the carrier incapable of providing adequate coverage, the applicant shall provide dropped call records and denial of service records evidencing the number and percentage of calls within which the carrier’s customers were unable to initiate, maintain and conclude the use of the carrier’s personal wireless services without actual loss of service, or interruption of service.

(2) If, and to the extent that an applicant claims that a specific wireless carrier suffers from a significant gap in its personal wireless services, the applicant shall conduct or cause to be conducted a Drive Test within the specific geographic areas within which the applicant is claiming such gap or gaps exist, for each frequency at which the carrier provides personal wireless services. The applicant shall provide the local authorities with the actual drive test data recorded during such drive test, in a simple format which shall include, in table format:

(i) the date and time for the test or test;

(ii) the location, in longitude and latitude of each point at which signalstrength was recorded;

(iii) each signal strength recorded, measured in volts per meter and DBM, for each frequency.Such data is to be provided in a separate table for each frequency at which the respective carrier provides personal wireless services to any of its end-use customers.

(iv) the applicant shall also submit Drive Test Maps, depicting the actual signal strengths recorded during the actual drive test, for each frequency at which the carrier provides personal wireless services to its end-use customers.

(3) If an applicant claims that it needs a “minimum” signal strength (measured in volts per meter and DBM) to remedy its gap or gaps in service, then for each frequency, the applicant shall provide three (3) signal strength coverage maps reflecting actual signal strengths in three (3) bins in both V/m and DBM, the first being at the alleged minimum signal strength, and two (2) additional three (3) bin maps in both V/m and DBM depicting signal strengths immediately below the alleged minimum signal strength claimed to be required.

(f) On public higher education and public school campuses and in state parks and state forests, the installation of new wireless facilities shall be prohibited including, but not limited to, (1) site distributed antenna systems and small cell networks; (2) any structure; and (3) collocation of distributed antenna systems and small cell networks on existing wireless communications infrastructure.

(g) In state parks and state forests, the installation of new wireless facilities shall be prohibited including, but not limited to, (1) site distributed antenna systems and small cell networks; (2) any structure; and (3) collocation of distributed antenna systems and small cell networks on existing wireless communications infrastructure. An exception for wireless connectivity shall be made for minimal installations if required for basic emergency service, with selection of such services chosen to limit the potential risk of infrastructure expansion. (h) Any applicant or permittee must provide information to the municipality and the county engineer on how to swiftly and safely turn off a facility’s transmissions so that the county engineer or municipality can turn off a facility’s transmissions in the event transmissions exceed allowable levels.

(i) Violations. An applicant or permittee shall be prohibited from submitting further applications for 6 years if proven to have acted in bad faith in providing data or evidence. If the permittee has acted in bad faith in providing data or evidence or has shown a consistent pattern of non-compliance, the permittee’s facility shall be shut down, permit removed, and the facility may be removed at any time. Any facility that is non-compliant but claims innocence, must provide an explanation and evidence of innocence, and further must shut down at once if exposures exceed allowable levels and fix the facility before returning to normal operations. Any person or other legal entity who fails to comply with or who violates this section or who shall refuse a reasonable request to inspect any premises or who shall have aided or abetted the commission of any such violation shall each be guilty of a separate offense and, upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to a fine of not more than $400 or imprisonment for a term of not more than 15 days, or both. Each day after notice that a violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense. In addition, a civil penalty of $500 per day may be assessed for any such violation, which civil penalty shall be recovered by the municipality in a civil action in addition. Outstanding fines of 90 days shall define the facility as abandoned and subject to removal. This remedy shall not be exclusive and shall be in addition to all other causes of action, remedies and penalties provided by law.

(j) For the purposes of this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:’Applicant’ means any individual, corporation, limited liability company, general partnership, limited partnership, estate, trust, joint-stock company, association of two or more persons having a joint common interest, or any other entity submitting an application for a facility permit, site planapproval, variance, building permit, and/or any other related approval, for the installation, operation and/or maintaining of one or more personal wireless service facilities.

‘Collocation’ is to install, mount, or add new or additional equipment to be used for the provision of personal wireless services to a pre-existing structure, facility, or complex which is already built and being used to provide personal wireless service by a different provider of such services, wireless carrier or site developer.

‘Distributed antenna system’ or ‘DAS’ means a network of spatially separated antenna nodes connected to a common source via a transport medium that provides personal wireless services within a geographic area.

‘DBM’ means and stands for decibel milliwatts, which is a concrete measurement of the wireless signal strength of wireless networks. Signal strengths are recorded in negative numbers, and can range from approximately -30 dBm to -110 dBm. The closer the number is to 0, the stronger the cell signal.

‘Facility’ means a set of wireless transmitting and/or receiving equipment, including any associated electronics and electronics shelter or cabinet and generator.‘Frequency’ is a parallel name for a wavelength of radiation. In one second, the number of times a wave crests is called the hertz and that number is also labeled as the frequency. Non-ionizing radiation is considered to range from 0 hertz to 300 gigahertz, which encompasses 300 billion different frequencies of different wavelengths.

‘Macrocell’ means a cellular base station that typically sends and receives radio signals from large towers and antennas.

‘Node’ or ‘DAS node’ means a fixed antenna and related equipment installation that operates as part of a system of spatially separated antennas, all of which are connected through a medium through which they work collectively to provide personal wireless services, as opposed to other types of personal wireless facilities, such as macrocells, which operate independently.

‘Personal wireless service’ means commercial mobile services, unlicensed wireless services, and common carrier wireless exchange access services for telecommunications, within the meaning of 47 U.S.C. §332(c)(7)(c)(i), and as defined therein.

‘Small cell’ means a fixed cellular base station that typically sends and receives radio signals and which are mounted upon poles or support structures at substantially lower elevations than macrocell facilities.

‘Substantial evidence’ means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept asadequate to support a conclusion. It means less than a preponderance but more than a scintilla ofevidence.’Wireless carriers’ or ‘carrier’ means companies that provide personal wireless services to end-use consumers.

‘Wireless facility’ means a facility or facilities used for the provision of personal wireless services, within the current meaning of 47 U.S.C. §332(c)(7)(c)(ii). It means a specific location at which a structure that is designed or intended to be used to house or accommodate antennas or other transmitting or receiving equipment is located. This includes, without limitation, towers of all types and all kinds of support structures, including but not limited to buildings, church steeples, silos, water towers, signs, utility poles, or any other structure that is used or is proposed to be used as a telecommunications structure for the placement, installation and/or attachment of antennas or the functional equivalent of such. It expressly includes all related facilities and equipment such as cabling, radios and other electronic equipment, equipment shelters and enclosures, cabinets, and other structures enabling the complex to provide wireless services.

(k) Upon the effective date of this section, this section shall be immediately in force.

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Kirstin Beatty