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Flying Blind In The Land Of 5G

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Flying Blind In The Land Of 5G

On February 6th, 2019 the U.S. Senate Committee On Commerce, Science, & Transportation held a full committee hearing of the 116th Congress titled “Winning the Race to 5G and the Next Era of Technology Innovation in the United States”. According to webpage, the hearing will focus on maintining “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 will also examine current efforts to modernize infrastructure siting policies and the security of 5G networks.” The witnesses included:

  • Mr. Steve Berry, President and CEO, Competitive Carriers Association
  • Mr. Shailen Bhatt, President and CEO, Intelligent Transportation Society of America
  • Mr. Brad Gillen, Executive Vice President, CTIA
  • Mr. Michael Wessel, Commissioner, U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission
  • Ms. Kim Zentz, Chief Executive Officer, Urbanova

The Competitive Carriers Association, according to its website, “was founded in 1992 by nine rural and regional wireless carriers as a carrier centric organization. Since its founding, CCA has grown to become the nation’s leading association for competitive wireless providers serving all areas of the United States.” They say their mission is “being the premier advocacy organization for competitive wireless carriers and stakeholders. CCA will use advocacy, leadership, education, and networking opportunities to help competitive carriers grow and thrive in the wireless industry.”

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America, according to its website, advances “the research and deployment of intelligent transportation technologies to save lives, improve mobility, promote sustainability, and increase efficiency and productivity”.

The CTIA, according to its website, “represents the U.S. wireless communications industry”.

The U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission, according to its website, “was created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action.”

Urbanova is, according to its website, active in the area of so-called smart cities and states that it is “one of the innovators in this movement, bringing together leaders in utility infrastructure, smart metering and communications, higher education, energy efficiency, population health, and urban planning to create a smart city technology proving ground in the heart of Spokane, Washington.”

Health And Safety

At the end of this hearing, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal asks about the health and public safety implications. He is unsatisfied with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In December 2018 he contacted FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr asking for information on the safety of this technology, the done research, where it is published and compiled. He says that Commissioner Carr has failed to do so and that he echos “the general statements of the FDA, which shares regulatory responsibility for cell phones with the FCC.” Senator Blumenthal says the FDA’s statements are “pretty unsatisfactory”. He continues with:

“there basically is a cursory and superficial citation to existing scientific data saying ‘The FDA has urged the cell phone industry to take a number of steps, including support additional research on possible biological effects of radio frequency fields for the type of signals emitted by cell phones.’ I believe that Americans deserve to know what the health effects are, not to pre-judge what scientific studies may show, and they also deserve a commitment to do the research on outstanding questions”

He asks the witnesses whether industry has committed money to support independent research, whether research is ongoing, whether research is completed, and where can consumers look for it, regarding this new technology.

Mr. Gillen responds with “safety is paramount” and continues to say that he has no knowledge of industry backed studies and that they rely on what the scientists tell them. Mr. Berry adds that he is also unaware.

At the end Senator Blumenthal concludes: “So there really is no research ongoing. We’re kind of flying blind here, as far as health and safety is concerned.”

Discussion

Let me summarize that. February 2019 and industry representatives are unaware of health and safety research backed by the industry. Why would industry not care about the health of its clients?

Proper research into the short and long term effects takes years, up to decades, to complete. Yet, industry wants to roll it out as soon as possible. In 2020, places like New York City, Los Angeles and Wuhan already have functional 5G service. The Editorial Office of Hubei Provincial People’s Government Official Web Portal reported on April 16th, 2018: “By 2020, 5G network will cover every corner of the city and be available at an affordable price.” CNN reported on April 9th, 2019: “AT&T (T), which owns CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia, launched its 5G network in several cities in late 2018.”

Putting it up prematurely is like using the people as a testgroup for the technology. Health and safety testing should be done before implementation, not after. It appears that industry does not care about people’s health.

Further Reading

Competitive Carriers Association (https://www.ccamobile.org/about-cca#AboutUs)

Intelligent Transportation Society of America (https://itsa.org/about/)

CTIA (https://www.ctia.org/about-ctia/our-mission)

U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission (https://www.uscc.gov/about-us)

Urbanova (https://urbanova.org/about/)

Winning the Race to 5G and the Next Era of Technology Innovation in the United States (https://www.commerce.senate.gov/2019/2/winning-the-race-to-5g-and-the-next-era-of-technology-innovation-in-the-united-states)

At Senate Commerce Hearing, Blumenthal Raises Concerns on 5G Wireless Technology’s Potential Health Risks (https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/at-senate-commerce-hearing-blumenthal-raises-concerns-on-5g-wireless-technologys-potential-health-risks)

5G Wireless Coverage (https://www.cellularmaps.com/5g-coverage/)

5G network coming to Wuhan (http://en.hubei.gov.cn/news/newslist/201804/t20180416_1275769.shtml)

Looking for 5G? Here are the US cities that have it (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/09/tech/5g-network-us-cities/index.html)

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