A cell phone tower in your backyard?

If you received a letter that a cell phone carrier was installing a new tower near your house, would a desire for better service trump other concerns?

Kent German/CNET

Last week, I received a notice from the San Francisco Planning Department that AT&T Mobility is proposing to install a "wireless communications facility" (read, cell phone tower) within 500 feet of my house.

The notice says it will consist of 12 panel antennas and won't be visible from the street. I'm also invited to attend an "informational community meeting" with the city and AT&T reps and call an AT&T hotline to leave questions or comments.

In a city like San Francisco where complaining about AT&T is a favorite sport, the carrier's plans aren't surprising. Yet, this is the first time I've received such a notice, and if I weren't on vacation next week, I'd happily attend the meeting just to see who shows up. Indeed, cell phone tower installation has become a planning flash point in many cities as carriers like AT&T struggle to add 4G networks and meet customer demand for data-hungry smartphones.

On one side you have mobile addicts, while on the other side you have NIMBY types who object to everything from aesthetics and property values to possible health effects. And as my colleague Erica Ogg reported last year, San Francisco is one of most difficult places in the country to add new towers. But that's the funny thing about cell phone towers--everyone wants better service, but not everyone wants one blocking their view.

So, yes, the meeting should be pretty lively. If you received such a letter, what would your reaction be? Take our poll and let me know in the comments below.

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