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Sci Tech    H4'ed 3/5/19

5G, Fiber Optics & the Law

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Posted by Katie Singer

an excerpt from Our Web of Inconvenient Truths: The Internet, Energy Use, Toxic Waste & Climate Change (forthcoming in May from SteinerBooks) by Katie Singer, www.electronicsilentspring.com

Around the country, telecom providers have begun mapping their plans to deploy 5G "small" cellular, microwave-emitting sites throughout neighborhoods. Every person deserves to be informed.

The largest thing that humanity has built

Already the largest thing that humanity has built, we double the Internet's size every two years. The Internet of Things (IoT), also known as machine-to-machine communication, generates data traffic via the "smart" grid, billions of people who expect mobile web access and speedy video streaming 24/7, GPS networks and self-driving cars, toilets that analyze your stools and blood pressure and send the data to your physician, refrigerators that can message your phone that you need orange juice. A chipped diaper can message your device that your baby's diaper needs changing.

Such exponential increases in data traffic have the telecom industry claiming that we need 5G, fifth generation of wireless infrastructure.

More than 25 states and several federal Acts now mandate "streamlining" (easing deployment) of 5G infrastructure.

Let me unpack what this means for municipalities and households.

Fiber optics' role in telecommunications

Until 2016, businesses and households considered "fiber optics-to-the premises" the safest, fastest, most energy efficient and secure way to access the Internet. Encased in thick conduit, pulsing light on thin strands of glass fibers, fiber optic cables carry multiple frequencies for telecommunications. Effectively, fiber cables offer unlimited bandwidth. [1] They do not emit radiofrequency radiation. They tend to withstand weather catastrophes better than wireless systems.

For years, wireless telecom providers have run fiber optic cables from their core network to the large towers that support cellular antennas. Then, the system's "last hop" (from the cell tower to individual, mobile devices) is delivered wirelessly. In other words, wireless telecom infrastructure is not entirely wireless.

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Katie Singer writes about nature and technology in Letters to Greta. She spoke about the Internet's footprint in 2018, at the United Nations' Forum on Science, Technology & Innovation, and, in 2019, on a panel with the climatologist Dr. (more...)
 

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