To give the island full 5G coverage could require new mobile phone antenna at frequent intervals, as close as 200m apart in some areas.
Questions about the possibility of mast sharing between operators were raised in the House of Keys by Douglas North MHK David Ashford.
Communications Commission chairman Bill Malarkey said the regulator will always encourage but cannot force operators to share masts. And he added: ’With 5G on the horizon, which is a great step forward for the island, the whole siting of masts is going to be quite a major issue.
’These masts are a lot smaller. They can go on top of lampposts, but they will have to be very frequent - as close as maybe 200m to each other to get full coverage.
’We should be looking forward to 5G and making sure that we have the vires to go forward in the future to have the island covered by 5G and it not becoming an eyesore while doing so.’
Head of the Communications Comission Carmel McLaughlin told the Manx Independent it was almost impossible to say at this stage how many new masts may be required.
She said: ’5G is expected to use very small cell ranges (up to 100-200m) especially in urban areas.
’Most of the antenna are likely to be very small cereal box size which won’t necessarily require masts as they are likely to be placed on existing structures like lamp posts and buildings.’
Douglas Council leader David Christian said he was ’gobsmacked’ so many masts would be required. He said any proposals to site masts on the council’s land or property would require a full application to the environmental services committee, which would look at each case on its merits including health issues and visual impact. ’It’s not going to be straight forward,’ he said.