Saturday, December 16, 2017

Cell Phone and Wireless Technology Safety Tips



These safety tips can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/EMRsafetytips3.

California Department of Public Health

In December, 2017, the California Department of Public Health captured worldwide attention when it published an official cell phone safety document,"How to Reduce Exposure to Radiofrequency Energy from Cell Phones." The document is available at http://bit.ly/CDPHguidance.


In March, 2017, before the judge could finalize her ruling in a lawsuit we filed under the Public Records Act, the California Department of Public Health released an unofficial cell phone safety document, "Cellphones and Health," dated April, 2014. The document was originally written in 2009 but never released to the public. More information is available on my web site.


Other Safety Tips

American Academy of Pediatrics. "Cell Phone Radiation & Children’s Health: What Parents Need to Know." http://bit.ly/AAPrecs

Athens Medical Association. "16 Rules to Reduce Wireless Radiation Exposure." http://bit.ly/2pOt2HG

Baby Safe Project. "What You Need to Know about Wireless Radiation and Your Baby."
http://bit.ly/babysafetips

Canadians for Safe Technology. "Wireless Safety Tips. http://bit.ly/C4STtips

Connecticut Department of Public Health. "Cell Phones: Questions and Answers about Safety." http://bit.ly/cellphoneFAQsConn

Consumer Reports. "Cell Phone Radiation Warnings." http://bit.ly/CRwarnings

Environmental Working Group. "EWG's Guide to Safer Cell Phone Use." http://bit.ly/EWGcellphone

German Federal Office for Radiation Protection. Recommendations from the BfS for making telephone calls on mobile communications. http://bit.ly/BfScalls

German Federal Office for Radiation Protection. Smartphones and tablets--tips to reduce radiation exposure. http://bit.ly/GFRPtips

New Jersey Education Association. "Minimize Health Risks from Electronic Devices." NJEA Review. Sept 2016. http://bit.ly/NJEAschool


Vienna Medical Association. "Mobile Phone Information." http://bit.ly/viennasafetytips




Monday, December 4, 2017

Cell phone and cordless phone use causes brain cancer: New review

Increased Brain Tumor Risk from Wireless Phone Use:
2017 Supplement to the BioInitiative Report


Radio frequency radiation should be classified as “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1).

In May, 2011, radio frequency radiation (RFR) was classified as a ”possible” human carcinogen (Group 2B) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) based upon an increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma observed in human epidemiological studies.

Since then, RFR exposure has increased in most countries as few countries took any precautionary actions due to confusion sowed by the wireless industry. The emerging fifth generation of wireless technology, known as 5G, will further increase RFR exposure.

The RFR exposure limits adopted by most countries were established in 1998 by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The limits were based on short-term thermal (heating) effects from RFR and ignored non-thermal biological effects.

Although the ICNIRP guidelines were updated in 2009, they still do not cover long-term health risks from non-thermal exposures.  ICNIRP’s current RFR exposure limits are 2 to 10 W/m2 depending on frequency. ICNIRP has 14 members; many have ties to industries that want to maintain these permissive guidelines.

In contrast to ICNIRP, in 2007 27 RFR scientists reviewed the literature on non-thermal health effects and released the BioInitiative Report. In 2012 when the report was updated, the authors concluded that health risks can be observed with an RFR exposure of 30 to 60 μW/m2. Applying a safety factor of 10, they proposed a precautionary target level of 3–6 μW/m2 which corresponds to three hundred thousand to three million times less exposure than the ICNIRP limits allow.

This supplement to the BioInitiative Report written by Lennart Hardell and Michael Carlberg examines the case-control research on brain tumor risk published since 2011 when IARC classified RFR as “possibly carcinogenic.” 

The report finds consistent evidence of increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma associated with mobile phone and cordless phone use. These results are supported by results from animal studies showing genotoxic, co-carcinogenic, and tumor-promoting effects from RFR. Animal research finds evidence for an indirect mechanism for RFR-induced cancer, namely, oxidative stress on the cells leading to free radical production and DNA damage.

The supplement concludes that RFR should now be classified as “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1) based on the IARC definition for this category:

an agent may be placed in this category when evidence of carcinogenicity in humans is less than sufficient but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals and strong evidence in exposed humans that the agent acts through a relevant mechanism of carcinogenicity."

--

Lennart Hardell, Michael Carlberg. Use of Wireless Phones and Evidence for Increased Risk of Brain Tumors: 2017 Supplement.  BioInitiative Working Group, November, 2017.

The supplement to the BioInitiative Report is available at: http://bit.ly/bioinitbrain2017.


April 13, 2017


Evaluation of Mobile Phone and Cordless Phone Use and Glioma Risk 
Using the Bradford Hill Viewpoints from 1965 on Association or Causation
"The nine Bradford Hill viewpoints on association or causation regarding RF radiation and glioma risk seem to be fulfilled in this review. Based on that we conclude that glioma is caused by RF radiation. Revision of current guidelines for exposure to RF radiation is needed."
This review paper by Michael Carlberg and Lennart Hardell evaluates the strength of the scientific evidence to determine whether there is a causal relationship between a risk factor and an associated disease -- namely, wireless (cellphone and cordless) phone use and glioma, the most common brain cancer. The paper applies the nine perspectives developed by Sir Austin Bradford Hill to the peer-reviewed data pertaining to this health risk.

The authors allege that official bodies that have reviewed the evidence on mobile phone use and health risks have been dominated by individuals with conflicts of interest. Moreover, these reviewers have relied upon data from methodologically unsound studies, including the Danish Cohort Study and a UK cohort study, to dismiss the evidence from case-control studies.

Drawing upon several lines of research, the authors present a compelling argument for their conclusion that glioma is caused by radio frequency (RF) radiation. The paper recommends that the current guidelines for RF exposure must be revised to protect the population from exposure to low-intensity, non-thermal levels of radio frequency radiation.

--

Carlberg M, Hardell L. Evaluation of Mobile Phone and Cordless Phone Use and Glioma Risk Using the Bradford Hill Viewpoints from 1965 on Association or Causation. Biomed Research International. 2017;2017:9218486. doi: 10.1155/2017/9218486. Epub 2017 Mar 16.

Abstract

Objective. Bradford Hill's viewpoints from 1965 on association or causation were used on glioma risk and use of mobile or cordless phones.

Methods. All nine viewpoints were evaluated based on epidemiology and laboratory studies.

Results. Strength: meta-analysis of case-control studies gave odds ratio (OR) = 1.90, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.31-2.76 with highest cumulative exposure.

Consistency: the risk increased with latency, meta-analysis gave in the 10+ years' latency group OR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.20-2.19.

Specificity: increased risk for glioma was in the temporal lobe. Using meningioma cases as comparison group still increased the risk.

Temporality: highest risk was in the 20+ years' latency group, OR = 2.01, 95% CI =1.41-2.88, for wireless phones.

Biological gradient: cumulative use of wireless phones increased the risk.

Plausibility: animal studies showed an increased incidence of glioma and malignant schwannoma in rats exposed to radiofrequency (RF) radiation. There is increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) from RF radiation.

Coherence: there is a change in the natural history of glioma and increasing incidence.

Experiment: antioxidants reduced ROS production from RF radiation.

Analogy: there is an increased risk in subjects exposed to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields.

Conclusion. RF radiation should be regarded as a human carcinogen causing glioma.

Abstract for open access paper: http://bit.ly/2p1ovBU

Also see:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

An Exposé of the FCC: An Agency Captured by the Industries it Regulates

Click on graphic to enlarge. Posted with permission of Einar Flydal.


The Corporate Takeover of the Trump-FCC Is in Full Attack Mode

Bruce Kushnick, HuffPost, Nov 9, 2017   (Part 1 of 2)

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-corporate-takeover-of-the-trump-fcc-is-in-full_us_5a041fb3e4b055de8d096ab0


The Trump-FCC-AT&T-Et Al. Plan: The Insidious “Wheel of Mis-Fortune”

Bruce Kushnick, HuffPost, Nov 10, 2017   (Part 2 of 2)


Bruce Kushnick is the Executive Director of New Networks Institute (NNI), which was established in 1992, and a founding member of the IRREGULATORS, and has been a telecommunications analyst and visionary for over 35 years. During his career he has predicted that the addition of new technologies and networks would change the way we used the phone networks and he helped launch numerous interactive information markets and services that have now become commonplace.

--

June 26, 2015


Captured agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is dominated by the industries it presumably regulates

Alster, Norm. Captured agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is dominated by the industries it presumably regulates. Cambridge, MA:  Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University.  2015. 

PDF: http://bit.ly/FCCcaptured  (free)
Kindle: http://amzn.to/1SQThCU ($0.99 -- check out the book reviews)
Introduction

This exposé provides insight into how the FCC became a victim of regulatory capture by industry and the implications of these corrupting influences for our health and safety, our privacy, and our wallets. 

This book concludes with a series of recommendations by its author, Norm Alster, an investigative journalist, who has written for the New York Times, Forbes, Business Week, and Investor’s Business Daily.  He wrote this book while serving as a journalism fellow with the Investigative Journalism Project at Harvard University.

Following are some excerpts that pertain to the wireless radiation industry and its corrupting influences on the FCC. I encourage you to read Mr. Alster's entire treatise.


Excerpts

A detailed look at FCC actions—and non-actions—shows that over the years the FCC has granted the wireless industry pretty much what it has wanted.

Money—and lots of it—has played a part ... In all, CTIA, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Sprint spent roughly $45 million lobbying in 2013. Overall, the Communications/Electronics sector is one of Washington‘s super heavyweight lobbyists, spending nearly $800 million in 2013-2014, according to CRP data.

As a result, consumer safety, health, and privacy, along with consumer wallets, have all been overlooked, sacrificed, or raided due to unchecked industry influence …. Most insidious of all, the wireless industry has been allowed to grow unchecked and virtually unregulated, with fundamental questions on public health impact routinely ignored. Industry control, in the case of wireless health issues, extends beyond Congress and regulators to basic scientific research. And in an obvious echo of the hardball tactics of the tobacco industry, the wireless industry has backed up its economic and political power by stonewalling on public relations and bullying potential threats into submission with its huge standing army of lawyers. In this way, a coddled wireless industry intimidated and silenced the City of San Francisco, while running roughshod over local opponents of its expansionary infrastructure.

… Currently presiding over the FCC is Tom Wheeler, a man who has led the two most powerful industry lobbying groups: CTIA and NCTA. It is Wheeler who once supervised a $25 million industry-funded research effort on wireless health effects. But when handpicked research leader George Carlo concluded that wireless radiation did raise the risk of brain tumors, Wheeler‘s CTIA allegedly rushed to muffle the message. ”You do the science. I‘ll take care of the politics,” Carlo recalls Wheeler saying.

Graphic: The revolving door between the FCC and industry

Tom Wheeler, former Head of CTIA & NCTA, is now FCC Chair.
Meredith Atwell Baker, former FCC Commissioner, is now head of CTIA.
Michael Powell, former FCC Chair, is now head of NCTA.
Jonathan Adelstein, former FCC Commissioner, is now head of PCIA, the Wireless Infrastructure Association.

Graphics: Top House and Senate recipients of cellular industry campaign contributions 

It all begins with passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, legislation once described … as “the most lobbied bill in history.” Late lobbying won the wireless industry enormous concessions from lawmakers, many of them major recipients of industry hard and soft dollar contributions. Congressional staffers who helped lobbyists write the new law did not go unrewarded. Thirteen of fifteen staffers later became lobbyists themselves.

In preempting local zoning authority—along with the public‘s right to guard its own safety and health—Congress unleashed an orgy of infrastructure build-out. Emboldened by the government green light and the vast consumer appetite for wireless technology, industry has had a free hand in installing more than 300,000 sites. Church steeples, schoolyards, school rooftops, even trees can house these facilities.

In a 2010 review of research on the biological effects of exposure to radiation from cell tower base stations, B. Blake Levitt and Henry Lai found that “some research does exist to warrant caution in infrastructure siting” ….

Beyond epidemiological studies, research on a wide range of living things raises further red flags. A 2013 study by the Indian scientists S. Sivani and D. Sudarsanam reports: “Based on current available literature, it is justified to conclude that RF-EMF [electromagnetic fields] radiation exposure can change neurotransmitter functions, blood-brain barrier, morphology, electrophysiology, cellular metabolism, calcium efflux, and gene and protein expression in certain types of cells even at lower intensities.”

… Citing other studies—often industry-funded—that fail to establish health effects, the wireless industry has dismissed such concerns. The FCC has typically echoed that position.

… since the passage of the 1996 law, the very opposite has occurred. Again and again both Congress and the FCC have opted to stiffen—rather than loosen—federal preemption over local zoning authority ….

… would consumers‘ embrace of cell phones and Wi-Fi be quite so ardent if the wireless industry, enabled by its Washington errand boys, hadn‘t so consistently stonewalled on evidence and substituted legal intimidation for honest inquiry?

The FCC in 1997 sent the message it has implicitly endorsed and conveyed ever since: study health effects all you want. It doesn‘t matter what you find. The build-out of wireless cannot be blocked or slowed by health issues.

… federal preemption is granted to pretty much any wireless outfit on just one simple condition: its installations must comply with FCC radiation emission standards. In view of this generous carte blanche to move radiation equipment into neighborhoods, schoolyards and home rooftops, one would think the FCC would at the very least diligently enforce its own emission standards. But that does not appear to be the case.

Indeed, one RF engineer who has worked on more than 3,000 rooftop sites found vast evidence of non-compliance. Marvin Wessel estimates that “10 to 20% exceed allowed radiation standards.” With 30,000 rooftop antenna sites across the U.S. that would mean that as many as 6,000 are emitting radiation in violation of FCC standards. Often, these emissions can be 600% or more of allowed exposure levels, according to Wessel.

The best ally of industry and the FCC on this (and other) issues may be public ignorance.

An online poll conducted for this project asked 202 respondents to rate the likelihood of a series of statements … there was one statement of indisputable fact: “The U.S. Congress forbids local communities from considering health effects when deciding whether to issue zoning permits for wireless antennae,” the statement said.

Though this is a stone cold fact that the wireless industry, the FCC and the courts have all turned into hard and inescapable reality for local authorities, just 1.5% of all poll respondents replied that it was “definitely true.”

… many respondents claim they would change behavior—reduce wireless use, restore landline service, protect their children—if claims on health dangers of wireless are true.

… in May 2015, more than 200 scientists boasting over 2,000 publications on wireless effects called on global institutions to address the health risks posed by this technology.

Some have suggested that the health situation with wireless is analogous to that of tobacco before court decisions finally forced Big Tobacco to admit guilt and pay up.

It seems significant that the responses of wireless and its captured agency—the FCC—feature the same obtuse refusal to examine the evidence. The wireless industry reaction features stonewalling public relations and hyper aggressive legal action. It can also involve undermining the credibility and cutting off the funding for researchers who do not endorse cellular safety. It is these hardball tactics that look a lot like 20th century Big Tobacco tactics. It is these hardball tactics—along with consistently supportive FCC policies—that heighten suspicion the wireless industry does indeed have something to hide.

So how does the FCC handle a scientific split that seems to suggest bias in industry-sponsored research?

In a posting on its Web site that reads like it was written by wireless lobbyists, the FCC chooses strikingly patronizing language to slight and trivialize the many scientists and health and safety experts who‘ve found cause for concern. In a two page Web post titled “Wireless Devices and Health Concerns,” the FCC four times refers to either “some health and safety interest groups,” “some parties,” or “some consumers” before in each case rebutting their presumably groundless concerns about wireless risk. Additionally, the FCC site references the World Health Organization as among those organizations who‘ve found that “the weight of scientific evidence” has not linked exposure to radiofrequency from mobile devices with ”any known health problems.”

Yes, it‘s true that the World Health organization remains bitterly divided on the subject. But it‘s also true that a 30 member unit of the WHO called the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was near unanimous in pronouncing cell phones “possibly carcinogenic” in 2011. How can the FCC omit any reference to such a pronouncement? Even if it finds reason to side with pro-industry scientists, shouldn‘t this government agency also mention that cell phones are currently in the same potential carcinogen class as lead paint?

Cell phones are not the only wireless suspects. Asked what he would do if he had policy-making authority, Dr. Hardell swiftly replied that he would “ban wireless use in schools and pre-schools. You don‘t need Wi-Fi,” he noted.

So what is the FCC doing in response to what at the very least is a troubling chain of clues to cellular danger? As it has done with wireless infrastructure, the FCC has to this point largely relied on industry “self-regulation.” Though it set standards for device radiation emissions back in 1996, the agency doesn‘t generally test devices itself. Despite its responsibility for the safety of cell phones, the FCC relies on manufacturers‘ good-faith efforts to test them. Critics contend that this has allowed manufacturers undue latitude in testing their devices.

The EPA, notably, was once a hub of research on RF effects, employing as many as 35 scientists. However, the research program was cut off in the late 80s during the Regan presidency. [Former EPA Scientist, Carl] Blackman says he was personally “forbidden” to study health effects by his “supervisory structure.”

Blackman is cautious in imputing motives to the high government officials who wanted his work at EPA stopped. But he does say that political pressure has been a factor at both the EPA and FCC: “The FCC people were quite responsive to the biological point of view. But there are also pressures on the FCC from industry.” The FCC, he suggests, may not just be looking at the scientific evidence, “The FCC‘s position—like the EPA‘s—is influenced by political considerations as well.”

Still, the FCC has ultimate regulatory responsibility and cannot indefinitely pass the buck on an issue of fundamental public health. Remarkably, it has not changed course despite the IARC classification of cell phones as possibly carcinogenic, despite the recent studies showing triple the glioma risk for heavy users, despite the floodtide of research showing biological effects, and despite even the recent defection of core industry booster Alex Lerchl. It is the refusal of both industry and the FCC to even acknowledge this cascade of warning signs that seems most incriminating.

This is a very rich industry that does not hesitate to outspend and bully challengers into submission. Meanwhile, amidst the legal smoke and medical confusion, the industry has managed to make the entire world dependent on its products. Even tobacco never had so many hooked users.

Such sustained success in the face of medical doubt has required industry to keep a lid on critics and detractors. Many scientists who‘ve found real or potential risk from the sort of microwave radiation emanating from wireless devices have learned there is a price to be paid for standing up to the industry juggernaut. A few prominent examples …

The FCC‘s network of corruption doesn‘t just shield industry from needed scrutiny and regulation on matters of public health and safety. Sometimes it just puts its hand directly into the public pocket and redistributes that cash to industry supplicants …

The General Accounting Office (GAO) has issued several reports citing fraud, waste and mismanagement, along with inadequate FCC oversight of the subsidy program. Bribery, kickbacks and false documentation can perhaps be expected in a handout program mandated by Congress and only indirectly supervised by the FCC.

[The "subsidy program," the Universal Service Fund, subsidizes various technology programs at public cost.]

Fraud—as pervasive and troubling as it has been—is just one of the problems with the programs of universal service. It may not even be the fundamental problem. More fundamental issues concern the very aim, logic and efficiency of programs to extend broadband and wireless technology at public expense. Though the aims of extending service to distant impoverished areas seem worthy on the surface, there are many reasons to think the major beneficiaries of these programs are the technology companies that win the contracts.

… the FCC, prodded by an industry ever on the lookout for incremental growth opportunities, is ignoring the health of youngsters to promote expanded Wi-Fi subsidies in schools across the U.S.

As a captured agency, the FCC is a prime example of institutional corruption. Officials in such institutions do not need to receive envelopes bulging with cash. But even their most well-intentioned efforts are often overwhelmed by a system that favors powerful private influences, typically at the expense of public interest.

… the auctions of electromagnetic spectrum, used by all wireless communications companies to send their signals, have yielded nearly $100 billion in recent years. The most recent auction to wireless providers produced the unexpectedly high total of $43 billion. No matter that the sale of spectrum is contributing to a pea soup of electromagnetic "smog" whose health consequences are largely unknown. The government needs money and Congress shows its appreciation with consistently pro-wireless policies.

Science is often the catalyst for meaningful regulation. But what happens when scientists are dependent on industry for research funding? Under pressure from budget cutters and deregulators, government funding for research on RF health effects has dried up. The EPA, which once had 35 investigators in the area, has long since abandoned its efforts.85 Numerous scientists have told me there‘s simply no independent research funding in the U.S. They are left with a simple choice: work on industry-sponsored research or abandon the field.


… an FCC with public interest commissioners is an idea worth consideration. It would at least require party apologists to defend how they so consistently champion the moneyed interests that have purchased disproportionate access and power in Washington.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

iPhone X SAR: Specific Absorption Rate or RF Exposure

What are the SAR values for iPhone’s new smart phones? 
How should consumers use this information?

about cell phone use.

Also see: "Do iPhones emit more radiation than 
Samsung Galaxy phones?"


To reduce your exposure to microwave radiation: 
  • When communication is unnecessary, use Airplane mode.
  • When using cellular, turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
  • When using Wi-Fi, turn off cellular and Bluetooth.
  • When phone is powered on, never keep phone next to your body, especially during a phone call.
  • When communicating, use phone in speaker mode or a wired earpiece.
For information about wireless head sets, see my AirPods post.
A word of warning about new iPhones: Sophos has an article on its computer security website entitled, "iPhone's new 'off' switch that leaves Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on." (Please let me me know if this information is false.)

According to test reports filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for the iPhone X Models A1865 and A1903  (FCC #BCG-E3161A) for cellular transmission is 1.08 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 1.08 w/kg when worn on the body. The hotspot/Airplay SAR is 1.09 w/kg. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.39 w/kg at the head, 1.56 w/kg when worn on the body, and 1.56 w/kg when used as a hotspot.

The SAR for the  iPhone X Model A1901 (BCG-E3175A [no CDMA]) for cellular transmission is 1.07 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 1.09 w/kg when worn on the body. The hotspot/Airplay SAR is 1.09 w/kg. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.41 w/kg at the head, 1.59 w/kg when worn on the body, and 1.59 w/kg when used as a hotspot.

The SAR for the iPhone X Model A1902  (BCG-E3176A) for cellular transmission is 1.09 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 1.09 w/kg when worn on the body. The hotspot/Airplay SAR is 1.09 w/kg. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.48 w/kg at the head, 1.59 w/kg when worn on the body, and 1.59 w/kg when used as a hotspot.

All SARs reported above are averaged over one gram of body tissue corresponding to the US guidelines. The SAR values vary by cell phone carrier: Verizon and Sprint use the CDMA models, and AT&T and T-Mobile use the GSM models. 

The SAR values listed above are for conventional cell phone communications using spectrum licensed to cell phone carriers (i.e., PCE). Apple lists slightly higher values on its website for the head and body which represent cell phone communications using unlicensed spectrum (i.e., NII). Note that Apple does not report on its website the SARs in hotspot mode or for simultaneous transmission of cellular and Wi-Fi.

The minimum separation distance for body-worn testing was 5 mm (about two-tenths of an inch).

The SAR values for the Samsung Galaxy S8, 8 Plus, and Note smart phones were obtained at a separation distance of 15 mm (about six-tenths of an inch) from the torso so the body-worn SAR values are not comparable to those reported for the Apple iPhones. For more information see my article about Samsung smart phones.

What do SAR values mean to the consumer?

The legal limit for the SAR in the U.S. is 1.60 w/kg (averaged over one gram of tissue).

The FCC requires that all cell phone models be tested for their Specific Absorption Rate or SAR. The SAR is a measure of the maximum amount of microwave radiation absorbed by the head or the body. It is measured in a laboratory using an artificial model of a large adult male with different fluids to simulate human tissue. The SAR, which is measured in watts per kilogram, represents the maximum amount of energy absorbed in any one gram of tissue in the test model. Phones sold in the U.S. typically range in SAR values from about 0.20 w/kg up to the 1.60 legal limit. (3, 4)

The SAR test, adopted in 1996 by the FCC, was criticized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2012. (5) The test does not reflect those who currently use cell phones, nor does it correspond to the way people use them. Today many children are cell phone users--the child’s brain absorbs twice the radiation as the adult’s brain. Moreover, the artificial head does not contain any metal (e.g., dental fillings, earrings, or eyeglass frames) which could increase the radiation absorption beyond the measured SAR in the laboratory. (5)

The FCC assumes that consumers will carry their cell phones in a manufacturer-approved holder that keeps the phone a minimum distance away from the body. However, most people do not keep their phone in a cell phone holder. For the body-worn SAR test, the FCC allows the manufacturer to choose the separation distance between the cell phone and the test model as long as consumers are informed about the minimum distance tested. However, few consumers are aware of the manufacturer’s recommended minimum body separation distance from their cell phone because this information is often difficult to find. Thus, most consumers are in the dark about precautions they can take to keep their exposure to microwave radiation below the legal limit. This prompted the city of Berkeley, California to adopt landmark legislation that requires cellphone retailers to inform their customers about the manufacturer’s safety information.

To ensure that the cell phone does not exceed the legal limit, consumers should never keep their cell phone in their pockets or next to their skin. The cell phone is not tested directly against the body because almost all cell phones would fail the SAR test as the radiation absorption increases dramatically when the cell phone is close to the body.

Is the legal limit sufficient to protect the cell phone user’s health?

Federal policies in the U.S. could lead the public to believe that all legally-marketed cell phones are safe, and that a cell phone's SAR doesn't matter as long as it meets the legal limit: 1.6 watts per kilogram. (3, 4)

However, the Environmental Working Group and experts point out that the SAR only measures the maximum microwave absorption from cell phone use that perfectly matches laboratory conditions. The SAR is not a good indicator of one’s cumulative microwave exposure under naturalistic conditions.  The research evidence suggests that how one uses the phone (e.g., hands-free) and one’s cell phone carrier actually matters more than the phone’s SAR level.  (4, 6, 7)

The SAR standard was developed to protect users only from the acute effects of the heat generated by microwave radiation (i.e., the thermal effect). (5) The SAR limit does not protect users from the non-thermal effects caused by the cumulative exposure over time to cell phone radiation.

Yet, thousands of laboratory studies with animals and cell samples have found deleterious biologic effects from short-term exposure to low intensity cell phone radiation, including development of stress proteins, micronuclei, free radicals, DNA breakage, and sperm damage. (8) Human studies have also found that brief exposure to cell phone radiation alters brain activity and can open the blood-brain barrier which could enable chemical toxins in the circulatory system to penetrate the brain. (9)

Major studies with humans have found increased cancer risk, including a three-fold increase in brain cancer among those who used wireless phones (cell phones and cordless phones) for 25 or more years. (10)  Based upon this research, the World Health Organization in 2011 declared radiofrequency radiation "possibly carcinogenic" in humans (Group 2B). (11)

Other risks from cell phone use include reproductive harm and male infertility, and neurological disorders (e.g., impaired cognitive functioning, headaches and migraines, and ADHD [attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder]) in children. (12, 13)

Based upon the weight of the evidence from several decades of research including thousands of peer-reviewed published studies, many experts worldwide have signed declarations calling upon government to adopt stronger radiation standards to protect consumers from low intensity, non-thermal exposures from radiation associated with wireless communications, and to alert consumers about how to reduce their risk of harm. (14 -16)

Recent evidence suggests that brain tumor incidence is increasing in the U.S. and other countries and exposure to cell phone radiation may be contributing to this increase. (17) More than 230 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on electromagnetic fields and biology or health have signed a petition, the International EMF Scientist Appeal, calling for stronger regulation of wireless radiation.

For tips on how to reduce exposure to wireless radiation, see "
Some Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to Wireless Radiation". (18) In short, limit your use of the phone, keep the phone away from your body whenever it is powered on, use the phone hands-free, and turn off transmitters not in use (e.g., shut off Wi-Fi or use airplane mode).

References

(3) FCC. Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for Cellular Telephones. Undated. http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/specific-absorption-rate-sar-cellular-telephones

(4) FCC. “Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) For Cell Phones: What It Means For You.” Undated. http://www.fcc.gov/guides/specific-absorption-rate-sar-cell-phones-what-it-means-you

(5) Joel Moskowitz. “"Comments on the 2012 GAO Report: 'Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed'.:” http://www.saferemr.com/2013/01/commentary-gao-2012-report-on-mobile.html

(6) Wolchover N. Radiation Risk: Are Some Cellphones More Dangerous Than Others? Life's Little Mysteries. June 23, 2011. http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/1550-radiation-risk-some-cell-phones-more-dangerous-than-others.html

(7) Environmental Working Group. EWG’s Guide to Safer Cell Phone Use: Where is EWG's cell phone database? August 27 2013. 

(8) Giuliani L. Soffritti M. Non-thermal effects and mechanisms of interaction between electromagnetic fields and living matter. ICEMS Monograph. Bologna, Italy: National Institute for the Study and Control of Cancer. 2010. http://www.icems.eu/papers.htm

(9) Joel Moskowitz. “LTE Cell Phone Radiation Affects Brain Activity in Cell Phone Users.” Sep 20, 2013. http://www.prlog.org/12215083

(10) Joel Moskowitz. “Brain Cancer Risk Increases with the Amount of Wireless Phone Use: Study. http://www.prlog.org/12216483

(11) Joel Moskowitz. “Most Significant Government Health Report on Mobile Phone Radiation Ever Published.” http://www.prlog.org/12125230

(12) Joel Moskowitz. “Cell Phone Radiation, Pregnancy, and Sperm.” Nov 19, 2012.     http://www.prlog.org/12026867

(13) Joel Moskowitz. “Cell Phone Use and Prenatal Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation May Cause Headaches in Children.“ http://www.prlog.org/12269207

(14) Joel Moskowitz. “Part I: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--Key Testimony Submitted to the FCC.” Aug 4, 2014. http://www.saferemr.com/2014/08/why-we-need-stronger-cell-phone.html

(15) Joel Moskowitz. “Part II: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--Key Research Papers Submitted to the FCC.” Aug 4, 2014. http://www.saferemr.com/2014/08/why-we-need-stronger-cell-phone_43.html

(16) Joel Moskowitz. “Part III: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--98 Scientific Experts Who Signed Resolutions.” Aug 4, 2014. http://www.saferemr.com/2014/08/why-we-need-stronger-cell-phone_4.html

(17) Joel Moskowitz. Brain Tumor Rates are Increasing in the U.S.: The Role of Cell Phone and Cordless Phone Use. 
http://bit.ly/risingtumors

(18) Joel Moskowitz. Some Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to Wireless Radiation  (one page handout). Undated. 
http://bit.ly/saferemrtips3

Friday, October 20, 2017

5G Wireless Technology: Major newspaper editorials oppose "small cell" antenna bills

California's Governor Vetoes Telecom Industry's 
"Small Cell" Antenna Bill (SB 649)



October 16, 2017 (updated Oct 17, 2017)

Shortly before midnight on October 15, Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 649, legislation promoted by the CTIA-The Wireless Association and the telecommunications industry.

SB 649 would undermine the ability of local governments to control the public rights of way in order to facilitate the telecom industry's deployment of up to 50,000 new cell antenna sites in the state. The bill would significantly increase exposure to microwave radiation, and for the first time expose the population to millimeter radiation

Over 180 scientists and doctors signed a declaration demanding a moratorium on the increase of cell antennas for planned 5G expansion. Concerns over health effects from higher radiation exposure include potential neurological impacts, infertility, and cancer.

Over 300 cities and almost four dozen counties opposed the bill. Wireless safety and environmental health advocates from throughout California organized to oppose this bill and educate legislators and the governor about the risks to health and safety that this bill poses.

News stories regarding the Governor's veto:



Los Angeles Times

San Francisco Chronicle


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July 27, 2017 (updated Oct 17, 2017)
My editorial note:
The telecommunications industry has proposed legislation in many states that would alter the local permit process that the industry must undertake prior to installing transmitters, antennas and other equipment in people's neighborhoods.
In California, the adoption of Senate Bill 649 would impair the authority of local governments in order to facilitate the telecom industry's installation of thirty to fifty thousand new cell antenna sites. This would result in significantly increased exposure of the population to electromagnetic fields (EMF).
234 experts from 41 nations have petitioned the United Nations and the World Health Organization about the adverse biologic and health impacts of EMF exposure. All of the scientists who signed the EMF Scientist Appeal have published research on this topic in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
The Appeal states that current international EMF exposure guidelines are obsolete and inadequate to protect human health and the environment. The Appeal calls for a public health review of the growing body of scientific evidence that includes reports of increasing rates of cancer and neurological diseases that may be caused by exposure to EMF from wireless sources.
As one of the advisors to the Appeal, I recommend a moratorium on installation of cell antennas until our government commissions an independent review of the biologic and health research to determine stringent radio frequency standards that ensure our safety. 
On September 13, over 180 scientists and doctors from 35 countries sent a declaration to officials of the European Commission demanding a moratorium on the increase of cell antennas for planned 5G expansion. Concerns over health effects from higher radiation exposure include potential neurological impacts, infertility, and cancer.
In the U.S., the Federal Communication Commission's radio frequency guidelines were adopted more than two decades ago and address only risks from heating (i.e., thermal effects). The guidelines were not designed to protect the population from verifiable non-thermal health risks associated with wireless radiation exposure.
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.

Related Posts

Scientists and Doctors Demand Moratorium on 5G
5G Wireless Technology: Is 5G Harmful to Our Health?
5G Wireless Technology: Millimeter Wave Health Effects
Cell Tower Health Effects
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity


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Jerry Brown stops invasion of the cell phone antennas and other bad legislation

Editorial Board, Mercury News, Oct 20, 2017

Sometimes good government is less about making good things happen than stopping bad things from happening.

In that spirit — thank you, Gov. Jerry Brown ….

He also rejected a bill to take disputes over water rights away from the State Water Resources Control Board — that is, the experts — and assign them to administrative law judges unlikely to be sufficiently educated in the highly complex field. Guess who wins in that scenario.

The cell antenna bill was the most flagrant sellout by the Legislature. Hundreds of cities and nearly 50 counties were up in arms, faced with losing substantial revenue — at least $30 million a year statewide and likely much more.

Even more galling, communities would have been stripped of bargaining power to get companies to provide high speed service to poor neighborhoods even though the wealthy ones that generate most of their profits.

As one example of potential harm, the law would have given the companies priority over cities’ and counties’ own plans for public safety communications equipment on public property.

In his veto message, Brown, who has served as Oakland’s mayor, mentioned the questionable legality of taking away communities’ right to control their own property, among other valid criticisms. Questionable indeed.

Lawmakers who pushed this bill, SB 649 by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, should be ashamed of themselves. It was a direct sellout to a powerful industry at the expense of constituents ….

On both these bills, Brown stood for broad public rights against moneyed interests. It was the governor at his best.

Gov. Brown right to block industry giveaway

Editorial Board, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 16, 2017

A bill to give the wireless industry largely unchecked access to public property across California brought loud objections from local officials in the Bay Area and beyond. Can the industry hear them now?

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the legislation Sunday, acknowledging the value of deploying wireless technology “rapidly and efficiently” but adding that he favors “a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill.” Indeed, Senate Bill 649, authored by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, and passed by the Legislature last month, would have all but given away public infrastructure to wealthy corporations.

Verizon, AT&T and other wireless providers have pushed such legislation here and elsewhere to ease deployment of so-called small-cell equipment that boosts coverage provided by larger cell towers, particularly in urban areas and in anticipation of fifth-generation (5G) network technology. The bill would have granted the companies rights similar to those of utilities, leaving local governments with limited power to set fees or restrict placement on streetlights and traffic signal poles.

The companies, which have spent tens of millions of dollars on political contributions in California over the past few years, already enjoy generous state and federal protections. They shouldn’t get unfettered use of what was built and paid for by the public.


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Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto messages send message to California Legislature: Don't


Editorial Board, San Diego Union-Tribune, Oct 16, 2017

The deadline for action on bills passed by the California Legislature has come and gone, and Gov. Jerry Brown is once again playing his role as the voice of mature wisdom in Sacramento. Examples:  ...

-- He vetoed Senate Bill 649, which would have sharply streamlined the permitting process and limited fees for installing equipment such as small cell towers used by the cell phone industry. In his veto message, Brown acknowledged the importance of this “innovative technology” but said a “more balanced solution” made more sense than stripping local governments of their authority.
In Brown’s veto messages, common themes are evident. He doesn’t like bills that can be seen as posturing. He doesn’t like bills that could have unforeseen complications. And he really, really doesn’t like cluttering government code with new laws that address problems covered by existing laws ....

Veto SB 649

Editorial Board, Sacramento Bee, Sep 28, 2017


AT&T is used to getting its way in the Capitol. Once again, AT&T was able to muscle through legislation, this time Senate Bill 649 by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, which would make it easier for telecommunications companies to place so-called small cell wireless contraptions on utility polls for 5G technology.
Backers made late concessions. But the vast majority of local officials remain opposed, saying they would lose too much control over the looks of their cities. We don’t believe local government should impose undue burdens on business. Nor do we believe the Legislature should go out of its way to big-foot local governments, and certainly not at the behest of one of the companies with the biggest feet of all.
Brown, the former Oakland mayor, should respect the concept of subsidiarity, and urge lawmakers and their telecom benefactors to try again in 2018.
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Gov. Brown, veto the bill that lets rich telecoms use public property practically free


Editorial Board, Mercury News, Sep 25, 2017

Photo caption Gov. Jerry Brown, shown at a Caltrain event, is the last hope for California cities to keep control of where telecom antennas go.

The California Legislature wants to give telecom companies a nice big gift: at least $30 million a year, and perhaps billions of dollars in savings at the direct expense of cities that both rely on the money and use their current leverage to negotiate improved coverage for poor neighborhoods.

Gov. Jerry Brown — or, perhaps more to the point, former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown — has to stop it. He should veto SB 649, which gives telecoms carte blanche to put their “small cell” antennas on any public property — street lights, public buildings — with a token fee, instead of negotiating with cities for the use of taxpayer-owned facilities.

It’s an outrageous giveaway to companies whose profits are in the  tens of billions. And it’s a slap in the face to California residents and taxpayers, who shouldn’t be forced to allow access to public property without just compensation. It will raise serious liability issues, but lawmakers left that up to cities to resolve, even though they took away cities’ bargaining power.

The idea is that this break will enable telecoms to fast-track communication improvements and reach more people. But telecoms, unlike nearly all California cities, are rolling in money. This is why lawmakers, looking to their own political futures, favor them.

In cities like San Jose, removing cities’ right to negotiate placement and compensation will skewer current programs to expand and improve broadband access in poor neighborhoods where telecoms have little interest in investing. Companies can make more money beefing up service in the Almaden Valley than in Alum Rock, or in Lamorinda rather than the flatlands of Oakland.

As the Greenlining Institute, which works for racial and economic justice, says: “SB 649 will not close the digital divide. Instead, it will allow phone and broadband providers to override community decisions about how those communities use public space.”

No wonder 300 cities and 47 counties opposed the bill. So did several labor organizations and, by the way, the California Department of Finance:

“Finance opposes this bill,” says its report. “While statewide uniform rules can help the expansion of new technologies, this bill goes too far by usurping city and county zoning authority for infrastructure development, and it potentially imposes reimbursable, state-mandated costs on cities and counties.”

By all but giving away public property to for-profit companies, the bill will limit cities’ and counties’ ability to locate their own communication equipment, including police and fire systems, and equipment from corporate partners helping to equalize Internet access.

So it’s up to the governor. The former mayor. Brown understands the struggle of poor communities and the importance of local control over public property. Get out the veto pen,
Governor. We’re counting on you.




July 21, 2017

The following editorials oppose the 5G "small cell" antenna bills proposed by the telecommunications/wireless industry in numerous states across the country.

The editorial boards of four major newspapers in California are opposed to this legislation because it imposes serious limitations on local control over the siting of cell antennas. 
"The telecom corporations want to streamline permitting and reduce costs for slapping their transmitters — ranging in size from a pizza box to a small refrigerator — on municipal utility poles, street lights and traffic signals wherever they want.... 
In Sacramento, the telecoms have hoards of money to fuel legislators’ reelection campaigns, and they routinely spend it. 
During the last election cycle, AT&T doled out more than $1.6 million to political groups and politicians. It didn’t discriminate among parties. Virtually everyone got a piece. The California Democratic Party was given $615,000. But the Republican Party got even more, $625,000.
AT&T also spent $250,000 on the annual Speaker’s Cup golf tournament at the world-class Pebble Beach course. That’s the Assembly Democrats’ big fundraiser. 
By contrast, the League of California Cities and other local government organizations aren’t allowed to spend a dime on politicians because their money comes from taxpayers. They do lobby, however." (Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2017)
The legislature, as well as most newspapers, have ignored the potential health risks from the proliferation of cell antennas necessary for 5G adoption including widespread exposure of the population to new radio frequency bands including millimeter waves. As many as 50,000 new cell sites will be required in California alone.

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California should butt out of cities’ dealings with telecom companies using public facilities

Editorial Board, Mercury News, July 11, 2017

A state bill that would give huge telecom companies a financial break and unprecedented rights to use public property at almost no cost is sailing through the Legislature this summer.

Why? Money, of course. Telecom companies measure profits in the tens of billions. California lawmakers understand this, so that’s whose side they’re on. The bill sailed through the Senate. Now it’s up to the Assembly to stand up for communities — particularly low-income neighborhoods — that will be harmed by it.

SB 649 would prohibit cities from any discretionary review or public say on plans to put “small cell” wireless antennas on publicly owned light poles and other structures in any neighborhood. (Yes, even your neighborhood.) And it would sharply limit fees that cities charge private industry for using property or facilities that taxpayers have paid for.

Sponsored by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, SB 649 is billed as cutting through permitting red tape and improving cell phone service. But it will slash existing revenue to cities such as San Francisco, which stands to lose millions of dollars a year. And it will eviscerate cities’ ability to bring high-speed Internet service to low-income neighborhoods, as San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has promised to do for East San Jose.

Other mayors are joining Liccardo and the League of California Cities to fight this outrageous power grab by the state and telecoms. We hope it’s not too late.

Here are a few of SB 649’s problems:

By preventing cities from negotiating over antenna locations, the bill eliminates their ability to push companies to provide high-speed access in underprivileged areas. Without that leverage, companies will focus only on areas where they make the most money.

By limiting fees, the bill deprives cities of revenue they could use to increase access to broadband in those poor neighborhoods. Companies will save an estimated $30 million statewide over 10 years — at the cost of public services.

By making public property broadly available to for-profit companies, the bill will limit cities’ and counties’ ability to locate their own communication equipment, such as police and fire systems and equipment from partners — potentially Facebook in San Jose — working on ways to help equalize Internet access.

And wait until neighbors find out they have no say over the clumps of electronic equipment that show up on light poles near their houses. But state legislators don’t care about that. People won’t call them; they’ll scream to the local mayor and council members.

The bill sets a terrible precedent of forcing communities to all but give away public property for private profit. Yet it passed the Assembly local government committee last week and goes to the Communication and Conveyance Committee on July 12.

So — where are area Assembly members? Ash Kalra? Marc Berman? Evan Low?

They’re fresh from serving on city councils. They could lead the fight to stop SB 649 in the Assembly and be the heroes of local government. And their voters.



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Democratic legislators take bold stands, 
except when they don’t

Editorial Board, Sacramento Bee, July 9, 2017

California’s Legislature, it’s said, is about as liberal as can be.

With supermajorities of Democrats in both houses, legislators definitely go out of their way to defy President Donald Trump, especially on immigration issues. On business issues, however, lawmakers are far less adventuresome.

In the coming days, the Democrats’ leftward slant will be tested on major bills affecting the powerful telecommunications industry, privacy rights and consumer protection….

A second, Senate Bill 649 by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, would give wireless providers such as AT&T virtually unfettered ability to place wireless transmitters on utilities poles control by cities and counties, for a nominal fee.

It’s part of a national effort by wireless providers to introduce 5G technology, which promises to vastly increase wireless’ ability to provide super-fast connections, and compete more directly with old-line cable providers. Similar bills are pending or have been approved in 20 states.

Hueso’s bill would cap fees that local governments could impose on wireless companies at $250 plus expenses for placing their devices on polls. Certainly, local authorities should not gouge companies that provide what could be useful technology. But Hueso’s bill also strips local authorities of the right to regulate the use of property in their jurisdictions. We side with local officials: they should be able to determine what corporations build in public spaces, not Sacramento legislators ….

Clearly, something else is going on. We cannot help but think that for all their bluster and bravado, Democrats see business lobbyists arrayed against them and do what too many politicians do: duck.


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 An audacious 5G power (pole) grab

Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times, July 5, 2017

Telecommunications companies are preparing to roll out the next generation of wireless networks, dubbed “5G,” which promise an enormous increase in capacity and connectivity. These networks not only will increase competition in broadband, they are a key enabling technology for a host of advanced products and services. They also represent a gateway to better economic opportunities in inner-city areas that are underserved by broadband today.

But these new networks are different in structure and appearance too. Instead of high-powered antennas on tall towers, they rely on an array of lower-power transmitters closer to the ground that serve much smaller “cells.” That’s why mobile phone companies are concerned that cities and counties will throw up bureaucratic or financial roadblocks to 5G in their communities. It’s not a groundless worry; wireless companies already have encountered local resistance in places where they have introduced the new technology.

It’s the look and the intrusiveness of the small cell networks that seems to spark the controversy. People are upset about the deployment of thousands of pieces of equipment the size of small appliances being placed strategically and liberally on publicly owned “vertical infrastructure” (that’s bureaucratese for municipal utility poles, street lights and even traffic lights). That means a lot of equipment in full view and in proximity — really close in some cases — to houses and people.

Local governments must retain some authority to push back on proposed deployments.

There is precedent for this kind of brazen move: The phone and cable TV companies persuaded the Legislature in 2006 to end local control over the construction of new cable TV systems, arguing that a shift to state licensing would bring much-needed competition to pay TV. But that logic doesn’t apply to the mobile phone market, where there is vibrant competition. Local government officials are crying foul, calling it an audacious power grab and the equivalent of a gift of public funds to billion-dollar telecommunications companies that don’t need the help.

The new mobile networks also will involve much more equipment in public view than an upstart cable TV system. Wireless companies say that the transmitters are typically the size of a pizza box or briefcase, although the bill would allow equipment up to the size of a small refrigerator.

Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), the author of SB 649, argues that wireless upgrades are a public benefit, and therefore local governments should not have the right to endanger them with unreasonable hurdles. Besides, he says, the more that individual cities are allowed to charge for their pole rentals, the less that wireless companies will have left for network upgrades in other, possibly more needy communities. But the bill goes far beyond setting a reasonable fee to access public property; it would usurp the rights of cities and counties to make decisions about how to use their property. Those rights include the right to make the wrong decisions.

It’s clearly in everyone’s best interest for 5G networks to be deployed, and surely most local governments would agree. But why shouldn’t cities and counties be able to try to leverage their assets to get a good deal for residents as part of the process, or take the time to get the public’s input on what could be a significant change to their physical and virtual landscapes?

Small cell technology does not have to be obtrusive or unattractive, nor will every street in a community necessarily require outfitting. That’s why local governments must retain some authority to push back on proposed deployments. Left to their own devices, telecommunications companies would naturally opt for the most efficient and cost-effective configuration when making a capital investment. Their goals are making profits and serving customers, not making a city look nice.

The telecommunication industry has been pushing this “streamlining” strategy in other states, with various degrees of success. Eleven have adopted some sort of laws to limit the local permitting process and pole fees. Legislators in other states, like Washington, have been more skeptical. California’s lawmakers ought to be wary as well and show more interest in protecting the rights of communities to govern the use of their infrastructure, rather than letting telecommunication companies make those decisions for them.


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A brazen phone power grab

Editorial Board, San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 2017

Local governments should decide where cell phone equipment goes.

San Francisco has hundreds of them: slim cylinders and flat boxes strapped to utility poles that serve as mini-cell towers to speed up wireless service. The devices are essential for anyone carrying a smartphone or tablet, but the subject is breeding a battle over money and political control.

Telecom firms such as Verizon and AT&T are pushing Sacramento to pass a law that would essentially remove the control cities and counties now have over where the equipment goes and how much localities can charge. In San Francisco’s case, the loss could total in the millions, according to Supervisor Mark Farrell, an opponent of the measure, SB 649.
  
His argument, backed by scores of other local jurisdictions, is about as basic as home rule gets. Cities, not Sacramento, should have the final say on what private industry can build in the public right of way.

The telecoms are selling the measure as a way to streamline approvals and improve coverage, an appealing idea to anyone who’s had a call dropped or Facebook session cut off. But these companies also want to curb the fees that local communities can charge to only a few hundred dollars per device.

In San Francisco’s experience, nearly all of the mini-cell towers are approved, making the argument about timeliness suspect. The existing rules give telecoms ready access to phone poles and utility posts as a way to fill in broader cell phone service that can be disrupted by tall buildings, thick walls or rolling landscape. Also, as wireless needs grow, more bandwidth to handle the traffic is needed. Cities have responded with lease agreements and worked out arrangements to put the wireless boxes in the right spots.

This bill would shred that process. The measure, which is showing up in nearly identical shape in other states, is about cutting expenses and avoiding local oversight. Health concerns about cell phone towers are not an issue in this dispute since that topic is governed by federal rules.

The bill has already shot through the state Senate and faces its first test before the Assembly’s Local Government Committee on Wednesday. That panel should heed the criticism from their home communities and stop a measure that subverts local control.


Other Newspaper Editorials in Opposition

Daily Bruin, July 16, 2017

DanvilleSanRamon, July 6, 2017

East Bay Times, June 9, 2017

Imperial Valley Press, July 16, 2017

Pleasanton Weekly, July 6, 2017

The Union (Western Nevada County), July 28, 2017

Ventura County Star, May 22, 2017