Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's council approves Rogers request to install Huawei antennas

St. John's council voted unanimously Monday night to approve nine rooftop antennas made by controversial Chinese communications company Huawei.

Application met all of city's requirements; oversight for wireless technology federally mandated

Coun. Maggie Burton says the city has received 30 wireless communications applications since 2014. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

St. John's city council voted unanimously Monday night to approve nine rooftop antennas made by controversial Chinese communications company Huawei.

The application, made by Rogers Communications, will see the nine antennas installed on the roof of a building on Bonaventure Avenue.

Coun. Maggie Burton says the application met "all of our requirements set out by the city for where they should go."

Huawei has made international headlines for months over its plans to build a 5G network in Canada.

"Someone asked if this is the new 5G network we are hearing so much about in other cities and it's not; it's a 4G network, to my understanding," said Burton.

Other countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and Australia have restricted Huawei, citing concerns over Chinese government access. 

In a statement emailed to CBC News, Rogers said the nine antennas are passive ones — meaning they do not contain any technology that can modify radio signals or process data.

The nine antennas will be installed on the roof of this building at 95 Bonaventure Ave. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Rogers is working with Swedish company Ericsson to develop its 4.5 and 5G networks.

The city received letters with concerns from two residents, but Burton said the city doesn't decide what equipment is allowed to be used in the wireless communication world.

Those rules are regulated by federal bodies Health Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Burton says council asked a lot of questions before approving the application. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The city's guidelines on what wireless equipment to allow were developed back in 2014, and those rules were followed in the Rogers proposal.

"We asked a lot of questions — it took a few weeks," said Burton.

"A lot of us new councillors haven't approved one of these or haven't done much of this so we wanted to look at the siting protocol documents to make sure that this was in line with that — and it is."

The nine antennas will be built two metres above the roof line, and the metal and plastic boxes will be partially enclosed.

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