Public Benefit or Big Profits for Big Telecom? Here’s What’s Really Driving the 5G Rollout – Suzanne Burdick Ph.D. 8/1/23


Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series examining key questions in the public debate on the safety of wireless radiation. Part I addressed the question, How did the FDA arrive at its position on cellphones and cancer? Part 2 asks, What’s behind the rollout of 5G?

Telecom companies promote 5G, the “next generation wireless network technology,” as being faster and able to handle more connected devices than the 4G LTE network. And they assure consumers the result will be increased access for underserved communities that lack reliable internet connectivity.

But critics — including Theodora Scarato, executive director of the nonprofit research and education group Environmental Health Trust — said the 5G rollout is more about corporate greed than it is about helping people access fast and reliable internet.

5G uses higher frequencies on the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) spectrum than prior wireless technologies and, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), can operate in these radiofrequency (RF) bands: low-band (less than 1 GHz), mid-band (1 to 6 GHz), high-band (24 to 95 GHz) and unlicensed bands (5.9, 6 GHz and above 95 GHz).

Scarato told The Defender that 5G is a marketing term used to promote promises about “bridging the digital divide” when what’s really being marketed is the deregulation of the wireless industry.

“I see it as a corporate land grab. That’s what it is,” she said.

The wireless industry creates and uses the hype around 5G to install their equipment faster and more cheaply, Scarato said. They do this by convincing public officials that communities need this technology and that the established public review processes are too slow and must be streamlined, to allow companies to deliver the technology rapidly and with little oversight.

5G push prioritizes profits over people

What this means for the wireless industry is that they are able to expand their infrastructure without having “to deal with all the people,” Scarato said.

It’s people — from the perspective of the wireless industry, she said — that are the “roadblocks to getting your equipment up because people don’t like it. It’s ugly. [They worry about] the radiation, the fire risk. All of these reasons why people want a more responsible placement for this equipment can be pushed aside when you just change the rules.”

Kim Mack Rosenberg, Children’s Health Defense (CHD) acting general counsel, said, “It is critical that we dig below the surface to try to understand the motivation of corporations in expanding 5G networks.”…

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