Op-ed: The Good, the Maybe Not So Good, and Risk vs. Reward of 5G

Chart of U.S. frequency allocations.

It’s all about connections.

Since the days of the telegraph, through to Marconi, Tesla and other radio pioneers, mankind has been addicted to and has become super-dependent upon, fast, two-way, multi-way, interactive voice, and now video and data communications. Globally, private citizens make billions of calls, texts, video chats, emails and more every day. This does not include the other billions of connections needed for industry and government. The need for speed and connectivity is growing exponentially.

Rob Morone

Some might argue that these communications are “technology prayers” of sorts. Requests sent to a massive, unseen entity for processing and consideration.

Of course, a huge chunk of these communications is consumption based.

We have come this far, and are at the metaphorical if not existential crossroads. The first path takes us in a vehicle mandated by the technological powers that be. On this path we must have great trust that our government agencies that should protect us from harm, weigh these risks against the benefits on our behalf, to our longer-term benefit.

The second path offers a much slower vehicle, but perhaps one rugged and steady and sure, carrying us to better technology in a measured approach, allowing for technology decisions to be made democratically, depending on private independent efforts to provide us the connectivity we want and need, avoiding tyranny on one hand, and improving life for us all on the other.

The paradox is that there is no second path. We have come too far. It is too late. The volume and necessity of global data communications has dictated that technology move itself to critical mass. The first path is what we are already on. There is no functional democratic process for the implementation of mass infrastructure technology. There is only the illusion of market choice.

Technology has always been an exercise in risk vs. reward.

We want to connect instantly, and we rely on the ability to connect for everyday basic, and not so basic needs. The technology has been continuously developed for decades and logically so has the need for bigger, faster networks.

The 1st generation gave us wireless voice.

The 2nd generation gave us wireless voice and text.

The 3rd generation added low bandwidth video and data

The 4th generation added high speed data, hi-definition video, video chats, etc.

As they advanced, these wireless “generations”, we were simultaneously given:

– The World Wide Web,
– The Internet – to be able to access the Web and to connects private, public and government networks independent of location,
– Interactive video communications,
– Search engines that aggregate global data,
– Social media,
– The Cloud
– The Internet of Things.

Along the way, the technology needed to implement these milestones has been improved, innovations made and of course, limitations reached, creating the need for better, faster networks. Global demand has mandated this forward progress, and not by vote.

If one reflects on how we have come to this juncture, it should be obvious that 5G is the logical evolutionary step to further integrate all of the above, even more tightly with the citizen and the human condition.

The Risks

All technology poses great possible risk to humankind, in myriad ways. First, in the manufacturing processes that deplete natural resources and exploit the most vulnerable of the Earth’s human resources. Secondly, the environmental dangers of managing the trillions of tons of techno-waste. Thirdly, the inherent risk that governments and military agencies misuse the technology to subject, control, oppress and repress regional and global populations. Fourth, the risk of the spread of disinformation and misuse by radical forces and techno-zealots, disrupting a functioning society. Fifth, the possible physiological effects on the human body, from the methods of wireless communications and the electromagnetic radiation thereof. Sixth, the psychological risks and harm from mass consumption of media content and “social media.” And seventh, the consolidation of technology power and prowess into multinational conglomerates with strong ties to regional and global governments.

The Rewards

There is little question that the aforementioned technologies are now, and in the future can be, of great benefit to us all. Improving the human condition should be the ultimate great purpose of all this effort.

Some of the most basic benefits must include:

– Faster distribution of food and provisions,
– Better healthcare with faster response times,
– Distribution of pay and benefits to citizens,
– Information management and analysis to improve life in general for citizens,
– Access to education,
– Increased productivity and efficiency,
– A general enhancement of the human condition, globally.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology that aims to expand the Internet of (all) Things, allowing for inter-connectivity of, well, everything…and everyone, at very high speeds, with little latency or delay.

How is 5G different from all the other “generations”? From an end-user standpoint, 5G differs little from 4G in terms of how most people practically use the communications technology offered today. In addition, implementation of 5G, in some manner, uses already utilized frequency spectrum to expand the network. (see above U.S. Frequency Chart)

Is 5G safe?

Let us pose a few alternate questions:

Are microwave ovens safe?

Is Wifi in your home safe?

Is the satellite internet dish in your home or business safe?

Is the Dish Network or DishTV entertainment equipment in you home safe?

Are the scanners at the airports safe?

Are power lines safe?

Is the microwave equipment that Internet Service Providers use today to create wireless, high speed networks, safe?

Is talking on a cell phone today, safe?

Are solar bursts safe?

Is radio astronomy safe?

Are X-Rays safe?

Is airline travel safe?

All these technologies and natural phenomena bathe us all in radio frequency radiation. More specifically, either focused emitted energy in a controlled pattern, (like satellite TV, or Wifi) or un-focused energy in an uncontrolled or chaotic exposure  (such as exposure to ionizing radiation when flying, or from the sun, or from nuclear materials exposure.)

These wireless communication technologies utilize highly controlled bursts of energy that radiate in predictable patterns. They are not “radiation” as from, let’s say, Uranium or from a sunburst. This is one concept that misinformation has led the general public to adopt a false premise regarding wireless technology in general. Unfortunately, much of the public is not technically educated enough to discern the difference between the two.

5G encompasses several subsystems to create the network. Many of these subsystems will use parts of the frequency spectrum in place today, and that have been used for decades. For whatever reasons, we have no definitive data or conclusive evidence that any of the pre-5G technologies pose undue, carcinogenic risk to humans. However, there also are many studies that do show possible ill effects. In many cases of both sides draw conclusions using their own scientific assumptions, and the former is generally better funded than the latter.

Since 1985, you can find no accepted studies that prove, without question, that exposure to wireless cellular radio frequency radiation has caused an increase in any specific disease.

The truth is you will find no single answer to any of these questions. The science is complex, the data sets are large, and for every study that concludes one thing, another contradicts, or at a minimum, questions the other. There are no absolutes.

One somewhat glaring observation is that society has already embraced what these technologies offer, and concurrently become dependent and co-dependent on the applications utilized.

Of the cognitive-dissonant messages of the COVID 19 public service announcement machine, “social distancing” and recently, “alone together” are two phrases that have been adopted. As Orwellian and disturbing as these messages appears to be, 5G is what will allow people to be “alone together” and “socially distant”.

Perhaps it is coincidental that the 5G controversy has been amplified by the emergence of the coronavirus global pandemic. Maybe not. Nevertheless, the pandemic has without a doubt made the requirement for 5G almost mandatory, and its deployment and adoption imminent. It is going to happen.

What can we do?

We can be aware, we can educate ourselves, we can make the best personal choices possible, and good or bad, we must deal with the choices our governments make.

In my opinion 5G will be deployed and we will probably not all die. We will likely find that the benefits outweighed the controversy and perhaps even the possible inherent risks.

5G will be rolled out like every previous technology, the ones we are told about, and the ones done in secret, and we will see how it goes. Stop panicking and focus on your personal health and well-being and support those closest to you, alone or together, by any means necessary.


Rob Morone owns Island Media Systems, LLC, a provider of Smart Home and Business integrated technology solutions. He is a seasoned audio/visual systems professional with 24 years of proven experience selling, designing, specifying, installing, programming and implementing client solutions. He is well versed in all facets of integrated audio/visual systems and automation control technology. His approach is to offer an experience to his clients rather than to merely sell equipment.