Telecommunications Act of 1996
, the first major overhaul of telecommunications law in almost 62 years. The goal was to allow more entities to enter the communications business. From long distance telephone service to broadcast and internet services to cellular infrastructure, this act allowed for more competition. That same year, the FCC adopted safety limits for human exposure to wireless radiation in anticipation of the oncoming age of digital and mobile integration.
That was 26 years ago.
Today, now into our fifth generation (5G) of mobile content and data delivery, with phones and pads instantly accessing the latest news, self-driving vehicles lining the roads, and AI infiltrating our consumer lives, the FCC has maintained its regulations based on scientific data and health standards from 1996. The only problem is that in 1996, there were 30,000 cell towers, or about 388,000 less than today. Each powers up and emits levels of radiation just outside your bedroom windows.
The proliferation of 5G and wireless technology has arrived, and it’s on a telephone pole close to you.
From New Hampshire to California, homeowners are feverishly approaching their city councils looking for answers. City councils now shrug their shoulders, not knowing how to respond, legally asking for counsel so they may have an appropriate answer for their constituents.
Enter Nicole and Robert Golden from Moorpark. In November 2021, they looked up to see a man installing of a small cell antenna on a telephone pole adjacent to their back fence, 14 feet from their child’s play structure in the backyard and 43 feet from their bedroom. No notice from the city. No understanding what was happening. They were shocked.
As the Golden family began to ask questions, they also began to research, only to find more questions than answers.
Sound familiar? To some of you it might. To others, this will quickly be sweeping into your neighborhood in the near future. Families all across America right now are asking their city councils for help in rectifying this horrible situation that will gravely affect the future value of their homes, along with the health and well-being of those who live within.
As Nicole Golden said, “Because (the small cell antenna) is so close, it has to be in the disclosure of my home if I sell it. It also has to be in the insurance paperwork for the buyer as well. There could be a house across the street going for $800,000 and my house won’t sell at all because … health is not something the FCC recognized. It could be somebody who comes over here looking for a home, is already aware of, or just has a little bit of information on (5G), and it makes the deal fall through.”
Julie Levine, Executive Director of 5G Free California
and longtime resident of L.A.’s rural and well loved town of Topanga, had to sell her home at a $300,000 loss due to cell towers that had infiltrated the canyons in the region to fill a gap in coverage. Having been diagnosed with electromagnetic hypersensitivity, Levine was having difficulty sleeping and suffered headaches, vomiting and diarrhea.
Since moving from her home, Levine has had a hard time finding an area in California where she was able to reduce her exposure to the radio frequency radiation of these cell towers.
As Norm Alster of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University describes in his report, “Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates”
the FCC and its petitioners have now full right of way and have begun making inroads, applying for geographic locations, leasing poles from regional power companies and dropping in small cell antennas where needed. Ordinances are turned into resolutions to minimize the legal process. Adopting the term, “shot clock,” – based on the pro basketball 24-second clock – the FCC is limiting the time that local governments have to approve the process for the incoming petitioner — companies wanting to install wireless infrastructure throughout a region.
What does that mean for us?
Imagine waking up one morning, looking out your bedroom window and noticing someone working on the pole right beside your front yard adjacent to your house. Wondering what is being installed, upon closer inspection and asking the installer, you find out that a small cell antenna is being placed on that pole, 25 feet from your home.
Now, let’s get real. WiFi is common inside a home with at least two children. Our kids can’t be without their Oculus headsets for very long. But how can this be happening? Who permitted this? Who allowed this unannounced microwave energy emitting small cell antenna in front of my home? How could this happen?
In 1996, the federal government passed the