At a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Hearing Feb 6, 2019, Connecticut Senator Blumenthal finally got the answer to a question that he and Congresswoman Eshoo directed to Federal Communications Commissioner Carr in a letter December 3, 2018. They asked, “We respectfully request you provide to our offices the 5G safety determination from FCC and relevant health agencies that you referred to during the field hearing.”  Although Blumenthal and Eshoo did receive a letter  from the FCC Dec 17, 2018, it had no mention of 5G safety testing,

 Winning the Race To 5G But Flying Blind on Health and Safety

Later, at a Senate Commerce Committee meeting,  “Winning the Race to 5G and the Next Era of Technology Innovation in the United States”, Senator Blumenthal brought up the question of scientific evidence of the safety of 5G.  He stated, “I believe that Americans deserve to know what the health effects are. Not to prejudge what scientific studies may show. They deserve also a commitment to do the research on outstanding questions….How much money has the industry committed to support independent research?…has any been completed… on the biological effects of this new technology?”  Industry representatives replied,  There are no industry backed studies to my knowledge right now.”  Senator Blumenthal replied, “ so, we are flying blind here on health and safety”.  There was no mention of public safety or environmental concerns aside from that brought up by Senator Blumenthal.  The lengthy but enlightening full video of the Senate Commerce Committee meeting is here.

Industry Pushing 5G Next Generation Technology for Citizens and Military Operations

The Feb 6 Commerce Committee meeting was focused on  “key steps to maintain U.S. global leadership in next-generation communications technology, spectrum needs to accelerate deployment, and new applications and services consumers can expect with 5G deployments.”  The hearing also examined current efforts to modernize infrastructure siting policies and the security of 5G networks to grow the digital economy, described as a “trillion dollar opportunity”.  It was mentioned that 5G with quantum computing and artificial intelligence is needed to unleash the national agenda including national defense. Ms Cantwell stated early in the meeting,  this will “will reshape the economy of the future” and  “change our modern warfare  creating military advantages through integrated military operations.”  She also expressed deep concern for cybersecurity issues with this technology.

Background: FCC Pushes Industry Agenda to Fast Track  “Small Cell “ Towers

The FCC has issued Policy Ruling FCC 18-111 to speed deployment of “small cells” which went into effect January 14, 2019 and required cities to update their wireless facilities siting policies to allow for administrative permits only for “small cells”, not the usual careful process for placement that requires planning commission and city council hearings.  The FCC Ruling allows batched permits (dozens of permits), a rapid turnover for approval of 60-90 days and a cap on what cities could charge for rent per pole  of $250 annually. The telecommunications industry says it will save about $2 Billion but the cities state it will be taking away that money needed for vital city infrastructure.

Congress Pushes Back on FCC  Federal Preemption with Eshoo HR530

Congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Speier introduced HR 530 to revoke the FCC Order and Ruling order. There are now 49 Co-Sponsors for the bill: Speier (CA), Bonamici (OR), McGovern (MA), Swalwell (CA), Suozzi (NY), Grijalva (AZ), Blumenauer (OR), DeSaulnier (CA),  Huffman (CA), Thompson (CA), Pingree (ME), McNerney (CA), McCollum (MN, Cohen (TN), Ryan (OH), Doggett (TX), Bass (CA), Khanna (CA), Cisneros (CA), Engel (NY), Panette (CA), Omar (MN), Lofgren (CA), Levin (MI), Carbajal (CA), Lee (CA), Schakowsky (IL), DeFazio (OR), Neguse (CO), Rice (NY), Brindisi (NY), Cox (CA), Aguilar (CA), Crow (CO), Hill (CA), Lieu (CA), Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Craig (MN), Royal-Allard (CA), Gonzales (TX), Casten (IL), Velasquez (NY),  Deutch (FL), Garcia (IL), Espaillat (NY), Norton (DC), Pappas (NH), Moore (WI), Brownly (CA)

Senator Elaine Morgan of Charleston, Rhode island supports a commission to review potential health impacts.

Most Cell Towers Placed are “Small Cell” 4G Technology

 Verizon claims to have the  “largest small cell deployment” in the United States. In 2017 about 62% of cell towers were “small cell”.  These cell towers operate using current 4G technology in what is described by industry as “low and tight” density (lower to the ground and closer together) and with anticipation of adding a 5G network in the future.  Industry claims that “Small cells are needed to meet exploding consumer demand for data, drive innovation, create new jobs, and fuel new services and capabilities such as smart communities, connected cars, smart farming, and the Internet of Things.”

Cable Companies Introduce 10Gbps Speeds Without Wireless

While wireless carriers are hyping 5G  as the “fourth industrial revolution” with fast streaming and downloads, cable companies have introduced their own fast network capability called 10G– for 10 gigabytes per second  (10 Gbps)-compared to 1 Gbps currently.   CableLabs chief Phil McKinney  said , “There’s nothing new that has to be invented…Everything has been specified. Everything has been designed. The technical work has been done and proven.”

Letters to the Senate Commerce Committee Due Feb 20, 2019

If you wished to comment on this issue you can send a letter to the senate commerce committee addressing only the issue of 5G by Feb 20, 2019. They need to be addressed only to  REEDCOOK@COMMERCE.SENATE.GOV.

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