In Washington DC, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions are taking notice of the push to install 5G Small Cells in their neighborhoods.  Washington DC has issued draft guidelines on small cells that would fast track small cell deployment. In response, the DC Advisory Neighborhood Commissions have begun deliberating on the issue and we now have the first resolution issued by ANC3/4G  that brings health concerns to the forefront. We expect more ANC’s  to follow calling for more protective regulations as citizens learn about health issues, property devaluations and aesthetic issues posed by unfettered 5G small cell deployment.

3. The health hazards of 5G technology have been intensely debated at the federal level, before Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). There does not appear to be any widely accepted definitive scientific study, however, that proves one way or the other whether small cell installations — emitting extremely high or “millimeter wave” frequencies above 24 GHz — may have an adverse health impact, although in 2011 the World Health Organization classified radio frequency radiation as a possible 2B carcinogen. Moreover, the only applicable FCC standards for radio-frequency radiation emissions were set in 1996, and did not consider the use of modern wireless equipment like small cells that will be located close to residences. Mere compliance with the FCC’s outdated standards does not assure safety.

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4. On September 26, 2018, the FCC adopted regulations that are intended to facilitate 5G technology by severely limiting the objections that states and cities can raise to small cell installations. The FCC’s press release stated that this was “another important step in its ongoing efforts to remove regulatory barriers that inhibit the deployment of infrastructure necessary for 5G and other advanced wireless services. This action, which builds upon those already taken by states and localities to streamline deployment, underscores the FCC’s commitment to ensuring that the United States wins the global race to 5G.” FCC Press Release, “FCC Facilitates Deployment of Wireless Infrastructure for 5G Connectivity,” September 26, 2018, available at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-354283A1.pdf. The FCC Chair described this action to “cut red tape for small-cell deployment” that will “mak[e] it cheaper and easier to string fiber optic lines on utility poles.” Agit Pai, “5G is in reach. But only if we set the right policies,” Washington Post, September 26, 2018, available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/5g-is-in-reach-but-only-if-we-set-the-right-policies/2018/09/26/9d5c322e-c1c7-11e8-8f06-009b39c3f6dd_story.html?utm_term=.cbadc613d419

5. Rather than “winning the global race to 5G,” ANC 3/4G considers the protection of residents’ health and welfare to be the District’s highest priority — not simply making installations cheaper and easier. Instead of racing pell-mell to authorize small cell installations without any reliable basis for finding that they are safe, the District should oppose this federal imposition until scientific data shows that it will have no serious adverse consequences for District residents. We should not willingly participate in this population-wide experiment that could have catastrophic consequences.

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6. The FCC’s action and DDOT’s draft guidelines will give private cell providers the right to put antennas and transmission control boxes on District-owned streetlight poles and privately-owned utility wood poles subject to only minimal limitations. This means that a 5G antenna could be mounted on the streetlight or utility pole in front of a resident’s home, and there would be little the resident could do about it. Given the health concerns described above, the ANC believes this should cause great concern for all District residents.

7. Because of these concerns, ANC 3/4G urges the Mayor, the Council, and the Attorney General to oppose the imposition of small cell wireless and 5G technology on the District unless scientifically reliable studies demonstrate that they pose no undue health risks for residents or their pets and that those installations will have no damaging consequences for people or the natural environment. This opposition should include, but is not limited to, adoption of legislation or initiation of lawsuits that will protect District residents and our environment from untested and unproven 5G technology.

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Approved by ANC 3/4G after a discussion at its regularly scheduled and noticed September 24, 2018 meeting by a vote of 7 to 0 (a quorum being 4).

Randy Speck, Chair

Rebecca Maydak, Secretary

Washington DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3/4G Opposes 5G Small Cells in New Resolution