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Not over my backyard: the regulatory conflict between 5G rollout and environmental and historic preservation

Benjamin W. Cramer (Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)

Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance

ISSN: 2398-5038

Article publication date: 29 March 2021

Issue publication date: 12 August 2021




This paper aims to analyze the environmental and historic preservation precedents that have been adopted and acknowledged by telecommunications firms when expanding their physical infrastructures.


This paper will conduct a policy analysis of contradictory regulatory goals that are expected to arise during the near-future rollout of 5G in the USA. This will be done via traditional legal research combined with a critical policy focus. Particular attention will be given to the public interest remedies that have been established for companies that have used private or public property.


Due to the spatial requirements of 5G network infrastructure, telecommunications policy (in which network development is paramount) is expected to conflict with land use-oriented regulations (environmental and historic preservation) in places where new 5G infrastructure must be approved and built.

Social implications

Ultimately, the paper will argue that conflicts will arise in local areas where the 5G rollout is expected to impact environmentally pristine areas or historic buildings.


Research in the environmental effects of 5G technology in general is becoming common, but conflicts between network construction and particular environmental or historic preservation regulations has not been the topic of organized research thus far.



Cramer, B.W. (2021), "Not over my backyard: the regulatory conflict between 5G rollout and environmental and historic preservation", Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 97-112.



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