Old Concerns Over New 5G Cell Towers
Is 5G a health and safety risk? There is growing concern on both fronts as consumers and technicians raise old issues that are taking on new life with 5G.
First, on the consumer front, residents in North Potomac, Md., are pushing back against new cell antennas being installed on utility poles near their homes and schools. The town is slated to get 61 new cell towers for 5G, and residents fear that the towers being placed so close their homes -- within 20 feet -- will bring harmful radiation. (See 5G: Health Risks & Nimbyism.)
It's a fear that has cropped up in the past, but it is exacerbated by 5G because of the number -- creeping into the hundreds of thousands -- of new 5G small cells required, as well as the use of new -- and largely unstudied from a health perspective -- technologies like multi-antenna arrays and millimeter wave.
While past studies have shown that RF signals from cell phones don't give off enough energy to cause health risks, 5G is uncharted territory, and that's enough to put people on edge. Theodora Scarato, executive director of Environmental Health Trust, told WTOP News (though without citing sources), "There are hundreds of scientists who have concluded that this is a risk."
On the safety front, Todd Schlekeway, executive director of the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), tells FierceWireless that it's challenging to find and retain enough workers to service cell towers. Here again, it's an old problem, but one that's made worse with 5G because of the sheer number of new towers being erected and the speed at which operators are looking to install or update them.
Schlekeway said there's only an estimated 29,000 technicians in the tower industry in the US, and that NATE is looking to create more interest by raising awareness and promoting the opportunities for advancement among minorities, military veterans and millennials. He called the job an opportunity to "start at the top and work your way down while being promoted."
— Sarah Thomas, Contributing Editor, Telco Transformation
The search giant intends to cut humans out of some of its processes and deal with the strain of massive data usage by using more automation in its network.
AT&T says it is ready to go commercial with 5G having consistently achieved 1Gbit/s speeds on mmWave connections in its trials.
NSF is pledging $100 million over seven years in a public-private partnership to test 5G technologies in real-world scenarios in Salt Lake City and New York City.
A new report from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission plays up the potential for 5G speeds, suggesting 5G could persuade consumers to give up fixed-line broadband.
More 5G predictions are rolling out as CCS Insights says that the US may be the first to launch 5G, but China will soon dominate it.
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