Despite Health Hazards, FCC and (Uninformed States) Promote 4G/5G Densification

By Kaitlyn Mensing, Legal Intern and David Andrews, Ph.D., Senior Scientist
July 9, 2018 | Original article here.

The wireless communications industry is rushing to blanket the nation with next-generation networks (marketed as 4G/5G densification, which will use a panopoly of frequencies from 600 MHz to 90,000 MHz). Despite studies linking radiation from existing networks to cancer in lab animals, the Federal Communications Commission and many state legislatures are bowing to industry lobbyists and clearing the way for the 4G/5G densification.

The FCC recently voted to exclude 4G/5G Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (WTFs) from review under federal environmental and historic preservation laws, but the FCC was promptly sued by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and four Native American tribes. Meanwhile, almost two dozen states have passed laws, pushed by wireless lobby groups, to override local ordinances that would regulate the siting of these new base stations, which could be installed on nearly every telephone pole in the U.S. Some states are considering similar legislation, while others, such as California, have vetoed bills designed to remove local rights in order to streamline the installation of Close Proximity Microwave Radiation Antenna – Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (CPMRA-WTFs).


S4WT Comment: In addition, a new Federal bill by Commerce Committee Chairman, Sen. John Thune has recently arrived in the Senate, with text selected from this October, 2017 Draft text:


S.3157: Streamline Small Cell Deployment Act of 2018


In 2016, the National Toxicology Program released final data from a 17-year, $25 million NIEHS study, concluding significant increases in heart and brain cancer as well as DNA damage for rats exposed to 900 MHz 2G/3G-modulated pulsed, data-modulated, Radiofrequency Microwave Radiation (GSM and CDMA). The rest of the tissue samples for rats exposed to 900 MHz and mice exposed to 1800 MHz 2G/3G-modulated RF microwave radiation, was released in Feb 2018 with a public peer review on 3/28/18. The health impacts the from NTP study are red flags.

The modulation from 5G devices and infrastructure (OFDM/OFDMA) is similar to that of previous generations, but the number of 5G frequencies and the size of the bandwidths being deployed will be much, much greater:


S4WT Comment: The Panoply of Microwave Frequencies/Wavelengths in a 4G/5G World

  • 5G: 600 MHz = waves 20 inches long
  • 4G: 700 MHz = waves 17 inches long
  • 3G/4G: 800 MHz = waves 15 inches long
  • 3G/4G: 900 MHz = waves 13 inches long
  • 3G/4G: 1800 MHz = waves 7 inches long
  • 3G/4G: 2100 MHz = waves 6 inches long
  • Wi-Fi: 2450 MHz = waves 5 inches long (unlicensed)
  • 5G: 3100 MHz to 3550 MHz = waves 3.8 to 3.3 inches long
  • 5G: 3550 MHz to 3700 MHz = waves 3.3 to 3.2 inches long
  • 5G: 3700 MHz to 4200 MHz = waves 3.2 to 2.8 inches long
  • 5G: 4200 to 4900 MHz = waves 2.8 to 2.4 inches long
  • Wi-Fi: 5800 MHz = waves 2.0 inches long (unlicensed)
  • 5G: 24,250 to 24,450 MHz = waves 0.5 inch long
  • 5G: 25,050 to 25,250 MHz = waves 0.5 inch long
  • 5G: 25,250 to 27,500 MHz = waves 0.4 inch long
  • 5G: 27,500 to 29,500 MHz = waves 0.4 inch long
  • 5G: 31,800 to 33,400 MHz = waves 0.4 inch long
  • 5G: 37,000 to 40,000 MHz = waves 0.3 inch long
  • 5G: 42,000 to 42,500 MHz = waves 0.3 inch long
  • 5G: 57,000 to 64,500 MHz = waves 0.3 inch long (unlicensed)
  • 5G: 64,000 to 71,000 MHz = waves 0.2 inch long
  • 5G: 71,000 to 76,000 MHz = waves 0.2 inch long
  • 5G: 81,000 to 86,000 MHz = waves 0.1 inch long


The Wireless industry says that 5G networks will connect nearly everything to the internet, enabling self-driving cars, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. They say that to achieve the necessary download speeds, cellphone companies will need to install antennas or base stations every block and a half. The FCC said this could mean nearly a million installations of the new technology.


S4WT Comment: Verizon’s CEO, Lowell McAdam, recently admitted on CNBC that this was just propaganda, since Verizon has demonstrated that 5G signals can travel at least 3,000 feet and still offer 1,000 Megabit per second download speeds:


On March 22, the FCC voted to exclude installations of 4G/5G Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (WTFs) from the National Environmental Protection Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. These laws require federal agencies to evaluate and minimize the impact of new development on the environment and historic properties.

But the FCC’s action does not exempt installation of the base stations from state and local and regulations. To clear these hurdles, the two main wireless lobbying groups – the Wireless Infrastructure Association and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association – have developed and promoted model legislation overriding such regulations to state legislatures.

The legislation, passed by 20 states so far, largely eliminates the permitting and review process for base station installations, and restricts or removes local oversight. Some legislation also unequivocally allows these installations in public rights-of-way. Some states have also capped fees for such installations much lower than existing rates.

Eleven states are considering similar legislation. Only four states have rejected or shelved similar legislation, including California, where Environmental Working Group (EWG) opposed the proposal and Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it.

In Congress, the wireless industry is also pushing the so-called SPEED Act to exempt small wireless installations, and any wireless installation in a public right of way, from the National Environmental Policy Act. Another bill, called the STREAMLINE Act, would create a federal one-size-fits-all rule to mandate cheap installation fees and speed approval of installations.

The actions of our Federal legislators, FCC and state legislators to fast-track 4G/5G densification are reckless and irresponsible.