Recently, there has been a tidal wave of conspiracy theories that try to link the COVID-19 pandemic to the ongoing buildout of 5G networks around the world.
These proclamations have led to cell tower workers being attacked while trying to perform work at cell sites, and, in the United Kingdom, cell towers have been set on fire by protestors of the buildout of 5G sites.
What Exactly Is 5G?
The 4G wireless networks that most of us have access to use relatively low radio frequencies compared to new 5G networks that are being built out.
The high frequencies used by 5G allow for many upgrades over 4G. They allow faster connections, support more devices, and will allow you to do more than you ever have before with your phone or other wireless device.
It is also not just additional speed that will be achieved by 5G, but just as important, low latency. What is latency? The best way to define it is the response time between when you click to download data such as streaming a video on your phone, which sends the request up to the network, and when the network responds by delivering you the website or playing your video.
Lastly, 5G will be designed to be able to connect a far greater number of devices than current 4G networks have the ability to do. How is this a benefit? Well, 5G can handle equipment associated with day-to-day business, ranging from those used on a farm to those used by financial institutions to trade assets.
Is 5G Safe?
The biggest fear associated with 5G, or, to be honest, any cell tower site, is primarily associated with certain radiation that is emitted from telecom equipment located within a cell site location.
However, before anyone passes judgement on the impact a cell site can have on their health due to radiation emissions, we need to understand how radiation works. There are two types of radiation, non-ionizing and ionizing radiation:
Non-ionizing radiation: This type of radiation is radiation that is typically emitted from items such as a common microwave oven to wireless antennas located on a cell tower. The main issue with non-ionizing radiation is overexposure, in that when the human body is exposed to certain levels of this type of radiation for a prolonged period, it will heat up the cells inside your body. Basically, this overexposure is like setting your cells on fire.
Ionizing radiation: Most people have constant exposure to ionized radiation from exposure to the sun, via UV rays, to more specific exposures to ionized radiation via X-rays or gamma rays. Ionized radiation exposure can basically pull cells inside you apart, leading to the breakdown of your DNA which, in turn, leads to several human aliments that can be deadly.
The good news is that most scientists believe that cell sites do not lead to medical issues, more particularly, a heightened risk of getting cancer.
5G cell sites utilize ultra-fast waves that are non-ionized radio waves, and these types of waves have not been found to be linked to cancer causation. The wave is simply too low on the electromagnetic spectrum to elicit changes in your body’s chemistry.
The FDA recently stated it “continues to believe that the current safety limits for cellphone radio-frequency energy exposure remain acceptable for protecting the public health.”
What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?
The best policy that a property owner can implement for any new cell site lease or renegotiation of any existing one is to make sure the wireless tenant provides full disclosure of what equipment is actually installed on its property.
Most wireless carriers and cell tower companies strongly push back when a property owner attempts to establish certain oversight rights. These companies mostly state that they should be able to freely modify equipment inside any areas they lease.
However, allowing a wireless carrier/tower company to have carte blanche as to what they do on your property not only exposes you, but those around your property as well. If you have an existing lease, how would you answer this question from one of your neighbors:
Do you know what equipment is located on your property and is it safe?
Even if a property owner can get a dedicated obligation from a wireless tenant to have to get your consent to add, modify or alter its equipment on your property, at minimum, a cell tower landlord should require evidence that all equipment that is going to be added to a cell site is safe. This can most effectively be achieved through the tenant having to provide a RF radiation study that will detail information of radiation emissions from the site once altered.
A cell site agreement is a long-term commitment, so it is important that you consider all of the elements involved, including, but not limited to, health and safety provisions which may not add rent to your bottom line but can save you from certain situations that could be quite costly.
Remember, the cell tower companies have experts working for them, shouldn’t you?