By Camilla Rees
Recently, health advocates have learned that 4,000 enormous new ‘Jumbo’ 5G antennas, on giant monopoles, have been proposed for New York City streets in 25 different zip codes throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island, starting in more disadvantaged areas. Queens-based non-profit Wireless Broadband, Inc, as well as Manhattan Neighbors for Safer Telecommunications, and other local and national groups are protesting.
Despite growing awareness of biological and health risks from the radiation emitted by cell phones, wireless devices and wireless infrastructure, and of wireless technology inadequacies to close the ‘digital divide’ (as is claimed), or to meet the growing demand for broadband capacity, wireless antennas in New York City are still rapidly going up all around us.
The new Jumbo 5G antenna structures planned for City streets, each containing multiple antennas, on multiple tiers, are starting to raise big questions.
Odette Wilkens, Esq., of Wired Broadband, Inc., says, “City officials mistakenly believe that wireless is the fastest option and the better choice. It is not.”
Former FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, and CEO for twelve years of the wireless industry association (CTIA), says “Fiber To The Premises” (FTTP) is “futureproof” technology. Indeed, in testimony to Congress Wheeler said, “Wireless may be a last resort option in the most isolated areas, but it should not be a first resort for most of America”. He said the consequence of the finite nature of radio spectrum is that “it is not a full-fledged substitute for wired broadband”, and that we need a network that is futureproofed from becoming inadequate in a few years.
Why aren’t New York City officials listening? Even on aesthetics grounds alone, it’s hard to understand how City officials could be considering polluting our neighborhoods with these unattractive structures, at the same time destroying peoples’ hard-earned home equity with these eyesores.
Not only is Tom Wheeler, who comes from the heart of the telecommunications industry, now championing FTTP over wireless, but also the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) safety guidelines for Radiofrequency Radiation (RFR) have also been called into serious question recently by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in an historic legal case.
One of the key concerns revealed in the case is that the FCC relies on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in setting its RFR safety guidelines, but the FDA, it turns out, does not evaluate RFR from cell phones, wireless devices or infrastructure, like it does pharmaceutical drugs, RFR-emitting medical devices and microwave ovens. This means that proper assessment of the biological and health effects of RFR has not been conducted by a federal agency to justify the exposure guidelines.
Wilkens says, “We support wired broadband on many grounds, well beyond the health issues. Fiber will always provide faster transmission speeds than any generation of wireless. The industry tends to compare the speed of one generation of wireless to another, and tech folks and government officials get excited about improvement, rather than comparing how wireless is outperformed by fiber.”
According to Les Jamieson, member of NewYorkers4WiredTech.com,“If fiber is a superior technology that can offer quality service to close the ‘digital divide’, protect health, improve privacy, reduce energy usage, and not be prone to obsolescence or further costs for the City, then why are New York City officials permitting small cell antennas on utility poles, and now Jumbo 5G antennas? Given the facts, City officials should not be permitting any antennas at all.”
Camilla Rees is a member of Manhattan Neighbors for Safer Telecommunications.