John Dvorak: The Problem With 5G

By John C. Dvorak, August 22, 2018 | Original PC Magazine article here.

The technology might be the problem, but even worse for the companies behind it is the perception that 5G is already unsafe before they even get it on a single pole.

If you read the barrage of scary literature about 5G mobile phone technology, specifically the use of millimeter wave frequencies to transmit data, you must conclude that it is a bad bet.

I’m not saying this because the technology does not work. It’s a bad bet because so little is known about the effects of millimeter waves (30GHz-300GHz). While these frequencies only permeate a small fraction of the human epidermis (the skin), the effect on the cornea, in particular, needs serious research.

Jan 2018: Close Proximity Microwave Radiation Antenna – Wireless Telecommunications Facility (CPMRA-WTF) in Santa Rosa, CA

Because the industry is too cheap to study the health effects of the technology itself, it lets this sort of product out the door despite the fact that it has already been weaponized by the military. These frequencies are so poor at travelling long distances, they need a transmitter on nearly every telephone pole and light pole to make 5G work.

S4WT Comment: This position is contradicted by T-Mobile’s 5G Infrastructure needs (based on 600 MHz which travels even farther than 700 MHz) and Verizon’s own statements about 28,000 MHz and 39,000 MHz traveling 2,000 to 3,000 feet, obviating the need to put Close Proximity Microwave Radiation Antenna – Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (CPMRA-WTFs) on utility poles in the front of homes.

Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon:

"When [Verizon] went out in these 11 [5G test] markets, we tested for well over a year, so we could see every part of foliage and every storm that went through. We have now busted the myth that [5G frequencies] have to be line-of-sight — they do not. We busted the myth that foliage will shut [5G] down . . . that does not happen. And the 200 feet from a home? We are now designing the network for over 2,000 feet from transmitter to receiver, which has a huge impact on our capital need going forward. Those myths have disappeared."

Jason L., Verizon Field Engineer:

"[Verizon 5G] is really high frequency [28,000 MHz and 39,000 MHz], so everybody thinks it doesn’t go very far, but it’s a really big pipe and so that’s what allows you to gain the super fast speeds . . We’re 3,000 feet away from our radio node. the cool thing about this is that we did not move the radio node. It’s pointing down to serve the customers in that area " . . . here even 3,000 feet away, we’re still getting 1,000 [Megabits per second] speeds . . . So now we’ve driven about 1/3 of a mile away [1,760 feet] from the radio node. we are still getting very good speeds even though we have foliage in between [800 Megabits per second]."

5G is already getting bad publicity, which could result in everything from bans on the technology and strong local regulations to equipment destruction by vigilantes. Of course, when you read deeper into what the chip and telecom companies are trying to do, you quickly discover that many systems calling themselves 5G are currently 4G mods using 5G as a marketing tool. Let’s ignore that scam and stay focused on millimeter waves.

As usual, the mostly arrogant (or naïve) technology industry is caught flat-footed at the negative reaction. It always figures that the stupid public will buy into anything new and jazzy if it makes their handheld phone seem a little faster, and even pay more for the privilege of the upgrade

One of the ways the industry has made this all work in the past is by quick implementation followed by a "Hey look it works! Nobody was killed" approach. That cannot happen with true 5G, which needs all these mini-towers all over the place. That leaves plenty more time for the public to get a clue and be freaked out.

When you do a search for "5G is Safe" on Google and Bing, you get a number of negative stories and a laundry list of why some people believe it’s unsafe. Companies may as well begin to market a 5G mobile phone with a skull and crossbones on it.

If this bad PR is somehow reversed and 5G takes over the market, I will be shocked. The way it is going does not bode well for any of it.

John C. Dvorak is a columnist for and the co-host of the twice weekly podcast, the No Agenda Show. His work is licensed around the world. Previously a columnist for Forbes, PC/Computing, Computer Shopper, MacUser, Barrons, the DEC Professional as well as other newspapers and magazines. Former editor and consulting editor for InfoWorld, he also appeared in the New York Times, LA Times, Philadelphia Enquirer, SF Examiner, and the Vancouver Sun. He was on the start-up team for C/Net as well as ZDTV. At ZDTV (and TechTV) he hosted Silicon Spin for four years doing 1000 live and live-to-tape TV shows. His Internet show Cranky Geeks was considered a classic. John was on public radio for 8 years and has written over 5000 articles and columns as well as authoring or co-authoring 14 books.

He’s the 2004 Award winner of the American Business Editors Association’s national gold award for best online column of 2003. That was followed up by an unprecedented second national gold award from the ABEA in 2005, again for the best online column (for 2004). He also won the Silver National Award for best magazine column in 2006 as well as other awards