There is a new cell phone tower being built near the corner of 5th and Pine Streets. The rumor has it that it will be an AT&T tower and some are suggesting it may be a 5G tower. 5G, if you don’t know is the newest cell phone technology and promises to revolutionize Internet speeds.
Amongst those who asked questions on a Facebook post were those who wondered about the safety of 5G. I was in communications electronics in the Navy and a ham radio operator for decades. I can speak with some knowledge about frequency spectrum and one truth is that the higher you go in frequency the closer you get to microwaves. And, you all know what happens in the microwave spectrum.
The original cell phones operated in a spectrum not too different than FM radio, 88 to 108 MHz. In spectrum terminology that is referred to as VHF (very high frequency) and there were those who believed holding a VHF device so near the brain could cause forms of cancer. Today’s digital cell phones operate in the much higher 824-894 MHz range which is in the UHF (ultra-high frequency). UHF includes frequencies beginning at 300 megahertz (MHz) and ending at 3 gigahertz (GHz). Your microwave oven runs at 2,450 MHz but at very low wattage (energy output). The doors are sealed and you are warned to not stand close to the device while in use.
Okay, the preferencing is over and here’s the potential problem with the safety of 5G. First of all, there are at least two kinds of 5G. One isn’t really different than 4G LTE and uses similar frequencies. In the Facebook post someone mentioned that Washington Court House had 5G and if it does, it is probably this “low-band” version.
The 5G that promises to be revolutionary is much different and relies on frequencies that could reach into the EHF (extremely high frequency) range, upwards of a whopping 6 GHz.
So, back to the question, is it safe? Lots of studies have concluded that cell phones are safe but like flu shots, there are still doubters. However, if your microwave oven will boil water at 2,400 MHz what happens if we are constantly bombarded with low-levels of the spectrum at 6 GHz?
I’m not pretending I have an answer. I just know enough to be able to ask an informed question. Furthermore, we don’t know if this new tower will operate at 5G or not.
NOTE: Thank you to Seely Portraits for permitting the use of their photographs. Seely Portraits, 427 Jefferson St, Greenfield, OH 45123, (937) 981-3013