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FCC Votes Today on Opening Additional Wireless Spectrum for 5G

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The FCC will vote today on opening up more of the spectrum for new 5G wireless technology.  D3Damon/iStockphoto)
The FCC will vote today on opening up more of the spectrum for new 5G wireless technology. D3Damon/iStockphoto)
 By Suzanne Potter - Producer, Contact
July 14, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today the Federal Communications Commission votes on a plan to open a new part of the wireless spectrum to encourage the development of the next generation of cell phones and wireless devices called 5G.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says this will allow U.S. companies to be the first to deploy the faster technology.

But Joel Moskowitz, an expert on radio frequency emissions with UC Berkeley, says there's barely any research on the health effects of 3G and 4G, much less 5G. He notes that a recent comprehensive government study showed a small but significant percentage of male rats exposed to lifelong 2G cell phone radiation developed cancerous or precancerous cells.

"I don't think we should blindly plow ahead and unleash these new technologies on the public because we're experimenting with the public,” he stresses. “We'd be saturating people's environments with this new form of man-made radiation."

Current wireless devices range between 2.4 and 5 gigahertz of exposure. The FCC says the next generation would operate between 28 and 71 gigahertz.

Moskowitz says 5G technology is more line-of-sight than current devices, so it would require millions of small transmitters just about everywhere, including on existing utility poles.

Wheeler has called for limits on local cities' authority to regulate the siting of these transmitters.

John Terell is vice president for policy and legislation for the California chapter of the American Planning Association, which represents city planners.

"We want to balance the rights of residents to an uncluttered and safe environment around their residence or business with the expansion of cellular telephone service, which the organization strongly supports," he says.

The Telecom Act of 1996 took away state and local governments' rights to limit antennas on health or environmental grounds.

The health advocacy group ElectromagneticHealth.org says it is essential for that section of the Telecom Act to be repealed. The hearing is being live streamed on the FCC website.


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