Independence Day /5G, Separating Benefits & Risks of Wired vs. Wireless Technologies If We are Serious About Health, Human Rights, Environmentalism

By Patricia Burke

Encyclopedia Britannica states, “Faustian bargains are by their nature tragic or self-defeating for the person who makes them, because what is surrendered is ultimately far more valuable than what is obtained, whether or not the bargainer appreciates that fact.”

B. Blake Levitt is a science journalist and author of two books about technology’s effects on biology.

In May of 2019, CounterPunch published her prescient article:  Fiber Broadband and Small Cells: An Unholy Municipal Alliance.

Fiber Networks Have Morphed Into Highways For Small Cells

Blake wrote,

“In the rural northwest corner of Connecticut where I live in the gracious foothills to the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, our 27-town Council of Governments (NWCOG), urged on by the well-intentioned local group “Northwest ConneCT,” is encouraging towns to embrace “fiber broadband” in their new plans of conservation and development and build out municipally owned fiber broadband ASAP. Such efforts for municipal fiber broadband are happening all across the country, but do towns really understand what’s behind this curtain?

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Typically municipal fiber has noble purposes: attract new residents, create/fill jobs, workforce training, better high speed connectivity and cell reception — with fiber the presumed answer to aging populations, decreased school enrollment, youth flight to cities, highway (un)safety, and more. Unfortunately, this focus is on end-points at the expense of what hitchhikes on fiber’s unintended consequences. Many are fighting this nationally, not because of fiber (a true marvel) or even broadband (who doesn’t want more?) but because fiber networks have morphed into highways for small cells that are just like having a cell tower, radiating RF, right outside your door.”

“I Used to Advocate for Fiber to the Premises”

As a science writer with two books on technology’s effects to biology, particularly infrastructure, I used to advocate for “fiber-to-the-premises”— meaning fiber optic cable, 100 percent wired to-the-home, without a mobile wireless component, preferably municipally owned over which various communications providers could “compete” for fixed services like Internet, communications and entertainment. (That should be our national model.) But that train left the station several years ago when fiber was hijacked for “backhaul” by the current feverish small-cell zeitgeist in the name of ubiquitous connectivity for fourth generation (4G/4GLTE smart phones) and eventually 5G Internet of Things (IoT) machine-to-machine technology.

The innocuous-sounding “fiber broadband” is potentially dangerous — financially, environmentally, legally. Fiber may never again be the perfect dedicated system. It’s been kidnapped by wireless convenience’s feckless siren call. A once completely wired fiber-the-premises (FTTP) is now really “fiber-to-the-driveway” with the final connection — the so-called “last mile” — struck by homeowners with various service providers typically via wireless combinations both outdoors and indoors. Such municipal plans invite piggybacking telecoms to create 100 percent mobile connectivity too, meaning small cell nodes – hundreds of thousands needed nationally — affixed to utility poles in public-rights-of-way, transmitting 24/7, without control or informed consent of those nearby. These are highly biologically active exposures.” – Blake Levitt

Blake Levitt Nailed It: 172 Organizations Call on Congress to Increase Broadband Speeds, to Make Possible Ubiquitous Wireless Services and 5G

Blake Levitt’s expert caution was well-founded.

As reported by Incompass, “172 Organizations Call on Congress to Increase Broadband Speeds with Future Proof Fiber” Benton noted, “Over 170 organizations joined in a letter to Congressional leadership urging full funding to universally build networks that will deliver capacity that will meet local needs for decades and to ensure rigorous scrutiny of recipients of federal dollars so that the program achieves the legislation’s future-proof goals. A federal program by Congress that emphasizes delivering future-proof infrastructure can enable not just ubiquitous fiber wireline access, but also make possible ubiquitous wireless services that rely on fiber optics including 5G, next generation Wi-Fi, and their future iterations.”

In her 2019 article, Blake Levitt explained,

“The rise in ambient EMF/RF levels is the single biggest environmental alteration within the last 25 years, speaking the same fundamental energetic language as living cells, leading many scientists today to think artificial EMF/RF degrades the body’s functional electro-chemical balance. Small cells will increase that by orders of magnitude and fiber is their ticket to ride.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) RF exposure standards, over 20 years old, are for acute short-term thermal effects (like a microwave oven cooks food) but today’s exposures are long-term, low-level, chronic, and far below that threshold.

There’s compelling science, at vanishingly low intensities, leading to:

.  The 2011 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of RF as a 2B (possible) human carcinogen. Newer research calls for RF reclassification as 2A (probable) carcinogen, or to Group 1 (known) carcinogen.

The 2012 BioInitiative Report, edited by Cindy Sage and David O. Carpenter, MD, was updated to include nearly 2000 papers from over 10 countries by 29 international research scientists (10 from the U.S.). Noted were continued rollouts of wireless technologies jeopardizing global health, with recommendations for different standards, lower exposure limits, and a cautious science-based approach. (Undated in 2020)

.  The 2015 International Scientists Appeal to the UN/WHO by 220 peer-reviewed scientists from 41 nations about grave concerns over rising ambient EMF/RF.  Their warnings include all RF-emitting devices: cell phones, infrastructure, wifi, ‘smart’ meter/grid technology, devices like baby monitors, and commercial broadcast. The warning extends to 4 and 5G small cells.

. The 2017 petition by Swedish scientist Lennart Hardell, signed by over 180 scientists and doctors from 36 countries, calling for a EU moratorium on 5G roll-out until human and environmental hazards are investigated by non-industry scientists. Signatories noted 5G will substantially increase cumulative RF effects on top of existing 2G, 3G, 4G, wifi, and other exposures. They urged EU to halt 4 and 5G until non-industry scientists show total radiation levels from all sources are safe, especially to children, pregnant women, and the environment.

. The 2017 U.S. National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) release of a 16-year, $28-million study that found causal relationships between cell-phone RF and DNA damage, malignant brain cancers (glioma), and benign nerve tumors (schwannomas) of the heart in male rats. NTP, the largest long-term low-level RF study ever conducted, used 2G-type radiation at non-thermal RF where effects were considered impossible. Newer generation signaling characteristics are even more complex.

. The 2018 Ramazzini Institute study in Italy verified NTP’s findings at even lower non-thermal RF intensities. They also found brain tumors and schwannomas in both male and female rats. Consistent with NTP, Ramazzini showed effects are reproducible. Yet FCC, FDA, and industry ignore the data.

Other non-thermal research shows effects to: DNA, cell membranes, gene expression, neuronal function, the blood brain barrier, melatonin production, sperm damage, learning impairment, and immune system function. Known adverse effects to humans include infertility, neurogenerative changes, numerous cancers, and heart rate variability. For some this is not theoretical. Near towers and in classrooms with wifi, people have experienced headaches, increased noise sensitivity, rashes, nausea, exhaustion, muscle weakness, lower libido, premature bone aging, concentration and memory problems, and hyperactivity. Prenatal exposures have lead to ADD and autism-like effects in test animals.

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Numerous effects to wildlife are seen. Birds suffer disorientation near cell towers. European studies found adverse effects in avian breeding, nesting and roosting near towers, and documented nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration, locomotion problems, plus death from microwave RF in house sparrows, white storks, rock doves, magpies, collared doves, and other species. Under laboratory conditions, U.S. researchers found non-thermal radiation from standard cell phone frequencies were lethal to domestic chicken embryos. Other affected species include bats, amphibians, insects, and domestic animals — even plant/tree flora are susceptible. RF created increased bacterial antibiotic resistance, and fruit flies showed morphological abnormalities and decreased survival. The tiny millimeter waves used in 5G will be particularly devastating to insects and thin-skinned amphibians as they couple maximally with skin tissue.

Fiber networks-to-the-premises without any wireless components are the safest, fastest, most secure and resilient communications systems – if they could stay dedicated.

Instead, fiber has become the highway for 4G and eventually 5G wireless networks with small cells transmitting RF within mere feet of people’s homes. Unlike individual devices and personal home wifi which can be turned off, industrial-scale infrastructure exposures are involuntary, 24/7.

There really is no other federal agency acting like FCC with dire preemptory rules that affect every citizen right where they live. FCC has gone utterly rogue from its duty to protect citizens in order to promote technology.

FCC’s unctuous 2019 small cell streamlining rule was the first sweeping administrative override of the sacrosanct National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) — federal laws that FCC is mandated to follow before issuing any ruling that could materially impact the environment.  FCC decided instead to relax the laws — far beyond their statutory authority.

There are considerable benefits with fiber but the only way to protect them from appropriation by commercial small cells is federal legislation that completely separates wired and wireless systems.

Towns really should not go down this fiber/small cell path with monumental safety questions unanswered, little — if any — antenna siting control, unseen financial/liability risks, and only speculative gains. Individual towns need to think carefully before getting into commercial communications – there might not be as much “home rule” as they think. And towns that naively write a desire for fiber broadband into plans of conservation and development should understand the entirety of that wish, including unintended consequences like opening themselves to liability from citizen suits on any number of grounds.

Not Everything Has to Be Mobile

A cheaper wired high-speed solution would be laws requiring FCC to enforce any cable licensee to fully complete their rural networks to every single home – or face license revocation. Cell phone dead-spots can be managed in ways other than going to thousands of small cells. Also worthy of protection are our legacy copper wires and a return to stationary, wired phone and Internet access. Not everything has to be mobile. At one time copper systems were considered among the true wonders of the world and still remain our most essential backhaul infrastructure for wireless. Copper networks also withstand devastating wildfires (as California discovered last year) better than fiber which melts more readily than metal.

These are legitimate concerns as we barrel toward ubiquitous mobile service and ever-faster Internet connecting every imaginable thing via a known genotoxin that’s not too present in many rural natural energetic environments where people go specifically to escape such exposures. Fiber/small cells now endanger the last vestiges of these places, such as they are. The question is — at what price to the biome for so much Faustian human convenience?” – B. Blake Levitt

Faustian Bargain

Free Dictionary.Com notes, “Faustian bargain – An agreement, bargain, or deal in which a person sacrifices or abandons moral, ethical, or spiritual values in favor of wealth, power, or other benefits. A reference to the legend of Faust, who sold his soul to the devil for unlimited knowledge and power.

Example by Free Dictionary: “I fear we might have devised something of a Faustian bargain for ourselves with our overdependence on technology, having traded in every speck of our private lives for flashy gadgets and convenience.”

Privacy concerns, although significant, don’t even begin to cover it.

B. Blake Levitt is a science journalist, former New York Times contributor, author of “Electromagnetic Fields, A Consumer’s Guide…” and editor of “Cell Towers, Wireless Convenience? Or Environmental Hazard?” Her focus is on how technology affects biology.

By B. Blake Levitt:  Fiber Broadband and Small Cells: An Unholy Municipal Alliance



See Also:

Top Image Courtesy Flo Freshman

You can read the rest of the series “Independence Day 5G” HERE

Patricia Burke works with activists across the country and internationally calling for new biologically-based microwave radio frequency exposure limits. She is based in Massachusetts and can be reached at [email protected].

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