5G Letter

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Full permission is granted by the author to copy, reprint, or reuse the content below. This letter was originally written for a neighborhood association newsletter. You are fully encouraged to adapt it for use within your own community newsletter and other local or online publications.

For anyone feeling called to step forward to organize with folks from your own neighborhood in Austin to confront the concerns surrounding 5G, you are welcome to have a dedicated page for your neighborhood added to Austin5G.org. Please reach out through the contact page.

How ‘5G’ May Impact Our Neighborhood

As you may already know, telecommunications companies including AT&T and Verizon are in the early stages of implementing something called the 5G network. 5G stands for ‘5th Generation’ and will be an upgrade to existing 4G and LTE wireless infrastructure that cell phones and other mobile devices currently operate on. While 5G promises to drive new technological innovation and deliver certain benefits, a substantial body of research suggests that such benefits will come at great cost to human health, property values, and personal privacy.

The City of Austin has chosen to become an early adopter of the 5G upgrade. So far, 5G has already been installed on the campus of Samsung Austin Semiconductor, and plans to further implement the technology throughout Austin are fast moving forward. It is anticipated that by 2020, 5G is to be rolled out on a citywide scale.

Chief among the benefits of 5G being advertised to consumers is a quantum leap in download speeds, akin to the jump from dial-up to broadband some twenty years ago. On another level, it appears 5G will be needed to support a world of increasingly interconnected electronics and rapidly advancing technologies such as ‘smart’ appliances, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. These technologies and many others, when summed, will constitute what is being called the Internet Of Things (IOT), which in turn is critical to the development of the so-called ‘smart city’ of the future. 5G is to serve as the backbone of the IOT enhanced smart city.

Author and noted technology critic Jerry Mander often commented that the majority of information we have about any new technology comes to us primarily through those who invent, promote and profit by it, and therefore treating such information with a healthy degree of skepticism is advisable. In the case of 5G, although proponents of the technology claim it is safe, there are now a growing number of scientists, engineers, and medical doctors from around the world who have been speaking out in opposition to that claim.

One such group is represented by over 250 signatories who together drafted an International Appeal directed at the UN and WHO to undertake a moratorium on the roll-out of 5G. (1) These and other scientists, professionals, policy makers, and activists opposed to 5G cite more than a thousand published studies linking electromagnetic frequency (EMF) and radio-frequency (RF) radiation to a slew of adverse health effects ranging in severity from: headaches, dizziness, depression, numbness and tingling of the skin and extremities; to heart palpitations, sleep problems, brain fog, and infertility; to potentially fatal conditions like brain tumors and other forms of cancer, cardiovascular issues, DNA damage and even genetic damage to sperm and ovaries that could affect unborn generations.

No doubt due to the overwhelming health concerns many people share, data shows that the value of homes in proximity to towers and antennas tends to decline, in some cases as much as 20%. The National Association of Realtors has cited a survey wherein, “an overwhelming 94 percent of home buyers and renters surveyed… say they are less interested and would pay less for a property located near a cell tower or antenna. …79 percent said that under no circumstances would they ever purchase or rent a property within a few blocks of a cell tower or antennas.” (2)

Those statistics are worrying, since it has been estimated that the number of ‘small cell’ installations (smaller nodes or relays which help interconnect and extend the network in between larger antennas) required to support 5G across the country would grow from 13,000 to more than 800,000. (3) Such a high density of network nodes will be required due to 5G operating at a higher frequency band which does not carry as far – potentially as little as 500 to 1,000 feet, (4) which could mean RF emitting small cell boxes installed on every block in our neighborhood.

Some security experts have also warned against potential abuses of privacy nascent in the coming ‘smart’ world that 5G would facilitate – namely a world in which nearly everything we own is networked, monitored, and mined for data by corporate or government entities and perhaps even anonymous hackers. (5) It should also be noted that the frequency band at which 5G operates on is within the same range as has already been demonstrated in use by the military in the application of crowd control and other so-called ‘directed energy weapons’.

Despite so many concerns over health, home values and privacy, the FCC, charged with federal oversight of 5G, appears to be operating on behalf of the telecom lobby to preempt citizens at the state, city, and municipal levels from acting locally to halt or prohibit the coming roll-out. Recently the FCC sought to expand rules under OTARD (Over–the–Air Reception Devices) to add small cells to the list of devices exempt from local zoning oversight. (7) In a worst case scenario, that could mean small cells installed directly on or in front of homes and offices without owner consent.

Yet opposition to 5G has continued to swell in many towns and communities throughout the country. Although such opposition may face significant hurdles, a number of those who have chosen to take a stand have been successful at halting the roll-out of proposed new wireless installations. A few examples are Petaluma CA, Doylestown PA, and Burlington MA, among many others, proving that organized push-back can have an effect, and alternative outcomes are possible. (8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

If the telecom industry has its way, 5G will be here before you know it – likely within the coming year. If that is something which concerns you one way or another, and if you would welcome joining in dialogue with other residents of Brentwood to discuss how this issue may affect our neighborhood and what options are available to help protect ourselves and our loved ones, it’s not too late. Please visit Austin5G.org for details about an upcoming community impact meeting. There you will also find a copy of this article with sources cited as well as links to other key resources. Please take whatever time you can spare to learn more about this issue.


  1. 5G Appeal – https://www.5gappeal.eu/
  2. Cell Towers, Antennas Problematic for Buyers – https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2014/07/25/cell-towers-antennas-problematic-for-buyers
  3. Modernizing FCC Siting Rules Would Jumpstart 5G Investment & Deployment – https://www.ctia.org/news/modernizing-fcc-siting-rules-would-jumpstart-5g-investment-deployment
  4. Want a 5G wireless box in front of your house? – https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/03/18/want-5-g-wireless-box-front-your-house-editorials-debates/410824002/
  5. 5G is speedy, but does it also raise the stakes on privacy, security, potential abuse? – https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2019/03/27/will-new-5-g-wireless-network-threaten-your-privacy/3032281002/
  6. Are You Confused About 5G, The Military’s Microwave Weapon? – https://www.activistpost.com/2018/08/are-you-confused-about-5g-the-militarys-microwave-weapon.html
  7. FCC’s 5G Deployment Push Usurps Local Control – https://www.publicceo.com/2019/05/fccs-5g-deployment-push-usurps-local-control/
  8. Bay Area city blocks 5G deployments over cancer concerns – https://techcrunch.com/2018/09/10/bay-area-city-blocks-5g-deployments-over-cancer-concerns/
  9. San Rafael residents take pre-emptive strike against 5G installations – https://www.marinij.com/2018/08/21/san-rafael-residents-take-pre-emptive-strike-against-5g-installations/
  10. Official: Palm Beach exempt from 5G wireless law – https://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/20170503/official-palm-beach-exempt-from-5g-wireless-law
  11. Petaluma sets cell phone tower policy – https://www.petaluma360.com/news/8567587-181/petaluma-sets-cell-phone-tower?sba=AAS
  12. Tiny Town Rejects Verizon Small Cells and Wins in Court – https://insidetowers.com/cell-tower-news-tiny-town-rejects-verizon-small-cells-wins-court/