A few weeks ago I published two guides, one on 5G Radiation, and another on how to protect yourself from that radiation. In this guide, I want to dive deeper into what 5G towers are, how they work, how much radiation they emit, and much more.
Since 5G requires an entirely new infrastructure of towers, none of the current cell-towers will be of use. The small-cell towers that will be installed on building, streetlamps, and just about anywhere else are going to be an enormous exposure risk when it comes to EMF radiation.
Let’s start off by talking about how 5G works, and the technology behind 5G towers.
If you’re curious about ways to protect yourself from 5G, be sure to check out this article, or look at my frequently updated recommended products page.
5G Cell Towers – What They Are and How They Work
Alright, first let’s just have a conversation about what 5G towers are, how they work, and why they are different than what we see now.
So, your phone currently (almost for sure) is connected to a 4G network, this stands for the 4th generation of cellular networks. In order for it to be connected to that network, it must be using radiofrequency waves to communicate with a nearby cell tower.
You’ve likely seen these cell towers around town, or on the side of a mountain, or maybe disguised as a tree. These towers, now sometimes called macro cell towers, are large structures capable of supporting many devices, on a wide spectrum of frequencies, over a large distance.
However, these towers are not at all capable of supporting the coming 5G network. That is for two reasons primarily, first of all, they are only capable of transmitting on a specific part of the radio spectrum (we’ll go in-depth on this topic in the section below). Second, the spectrum required for 5G is not particularly good at traveling large distances or penetrating things like trees and buildings.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “If 5G frequencies are so bad at penetrating buildings, traveling long distances, and aren’t supported by current cellular infrastructure, why do we need them?”
Well, we’ll get into this later, but the short answer is, 5G is faster, much faster.
In fact, 5G networks could be as much, or more than, 100 times faster than your 4G. That has implications not only for your Netflix downloads, but also the future of things like artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, machine learning, and much more.
So, getting back on topic, 5G is not able to utilize any of the current 4G infrastructures that have been developed over the last decade or so. Instead, these networks will require an entire new armada of what are called “small cell sites.”
What Are 5G Cell Towers (Small Cells)?
You may actually have already seen small cells if you live in a larger city that has started rolling out 5G infrastructure. However, you may not even realize that you saw one. That is because 5G small cells are both extremely small, and inconspicuous.
Usually located on light or electrical poles, the sides of buildings, under manhole covers, or just about anywhere else you could fit a backpack-sized box, 5G small cells will eventually be just about everywhere.
Take a look at the comparison below, showing a typical 4G towers, as well as a 5G small cell attached to a light pole.
A small cell is essentially just a single node in a 5G network. However, they are probably the most crucial piece of the network, because, without a large amount of them, the information would not be able to relay to its ultimate destination.
5G small cell towers require very little power, allowing them to be very small. However, these small cells use high-frequency millimeter waves, which have their own limitations.
Like I mentioned before, 5G frequencies are not very good at traveling far distances, or penetrating objects. So, you need a large number of small cells spread throughout an area in order to efficiently cover all users.
We’ll talk about this a little bit later, but as I mentioned in my primary guide on 5G, these small cells are relatively expensive to develop and install. So, having to completely replace 4G LTE infrastructure with 5G towers capable of supporting the new frequencies will be extremely expensive.
This means that you likely won’t see that “5G” displayed on your cell-phone for quire a while if you don’t live in a larger city, where it’s more cost-effective to install this network.
Now that we know a little bit more about what these 5G towers are, let’s talk about how they really work.
How 5G Cell Towers (Small Cells) Work
Based on what you’ve read up to this point about 5G frequencies inability to travel far or penetrate, you may think there is something lacking in the technology of these towers. However, the small cells themselves are actually extremely advanced, and it is only the frequencies that are being used that have the limitations.
In fact, it is only because of these extremely advanced 5G small cells that the network will be able to achieve the enormous speeds it promises.
There are a few technologies that allow 5G towers to work and to pass information along the network of nodes to larger towers.
Before we move on to some of the more specific technologies that allow 5G towers to work, take a quick look at the video below that will give you a rough idea.
So, as you saw in the video, these small 5G towers will allow for something called massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output). So, basically what this means is that instead of data passing in a straight line directly between a user, and a tower, on a single radio wave; data will instead be passed from a single device (your cellphone) to as many small cell sites as are in range and direct-line.
This allows the data to pass much faster and more efficiently. However, when MIMO was first theorized, the problem was keeping all of the information being passed in order. So, to allow for MIMO to work, an algorithmic technique known as Beamforming was discovered.
Beamforming basically just means that advanced math is used to constantly calculate the best route for the data arrays to travel between your device and all the 5G towers around you. The algorithm adjusts every few milliseconds to account for your location even as you move around.
Picture this: It’s 2016, and you’re connected to 4G on your cellphone as you travel down the interstate. You are directly connected to a single cell-towers, whichever (on your network) is closest and has the best connection. As you continue driving, your connection is passed from one cell-tower to the next, every 10-20 miles. That is essentially what is currently happening. Your phone just connects and stays connected, to whichever single tower, gives it the best connection.
However, this system does not at all work for the 5G networks of the future. Instead, your cell-phone will be constantly beaming data in multiple directions, to multiple 5G small cell towers in order for optimal transfer of your data.
In order to keep all of this straight, an advanced algorithm must be used. This technique is known as beamforming.
These small 5G towers do run quite efficiently though, as they are able to adjust their power constantly depending on whether or not they are currently in use. They can also increase or decrease their power capabilities instantly to accommodate the needs of the data arrays.
Alright, now that we have a better understanding of what these small cells (sometimes called 5G towers) are, and how they work, let’s dive a bit deeper into the frequencies that 5G will utilize, and why this is important.
5G Tower Frequencies
Alright, I think it’s extremely important to understanding how 5G works, and how 5G towers are going to work, to understand the frequencies that they will utilize.
Now, just about all telecommunications now, and likely in the future, utilize something called radio wave frequencies. These frequencies range anywhere between 3 kilohertz (kHz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz).
Lifewire does a really good job talking about the breakdown of these frequencies, and why it matters for 5G, so I’ll let them explain:
Some examples of radio spectrum bands include extremely low frequency (ELF), ultra low frequency (ULF), low frequency (LF), medium frequency (MF), ultra high frequency (UHF), and extremely high frequency (EHF).
One part of the radio spectrum has a high frequency range between 30 GHz and 300 GHz (part of the EHF band), and is often called the millimeter band (because its wavelengths range from 1-10 mm). Wavelengths in and around this band are therefore called millimeter waves (mmW). mmWaves are a popular choice for 5G but also has application in areas like radio astronomy, telecommunications, and radar guns.
Another part of the radio spectrum that’s being used for 5G, is UHF, which is lower on the spectrum than EHF. The UHF band has a frequency range of 300 MHz to 3 GHz, and is used for everything from TV broadcasting and GPS to Wi-Fi, cordless phones, and Bluetooth.
Frequencies of 1 GHz and above are also called microwave, and frequencies ranging from 1–6 GHz are often said to be part of the “sub-6 GHz” spectrum.
Now that we understand that a bit better, let’s talk about why the frequency a 5G tower is utilizing really matters. Remember above, when I said that 5G frequencies are capable of being very fast, but are not great at penetrating buildings or traveling large distances.
Well, for the most part, that is true, and that is because most 5G implementations are going to utilize these high-frequency, short wavelengths.
To summarize it simplistically, the higher the frequency, the faster the speeds, but the shorter the distances the wave can travel, and the worse it is at penetrating things.
The wavelength of the radio wave is inversely proportional to its frequency, which is important when we’re thinking about how 5G will work. So, a very low frequency might have a wavelength of thousands of miles, while a very high frequency, like those utilized by 5G, could have a wavelength of just a millimeter (hence the name, millimeter waves).
The longer wavelengths that come with lower frequency ranges are significantly more stable, which is why they are able to travel such far distances. Inversely, the extremely short wavelengths of 5G millimeter waves, are terribly unstable, which is why they can only travel short distances. If you tried to send these millimeter waves to current cell towers, miles away, they would be so distorted by the time they arrived they would be unreadable.
Why Does It Matter What Frequencies 5G Towers Utilize?
It matters because different frequencies have different wavelengths, which allow for different uses. So, there isn’t exactly a “single 5G frequency,” the truth is that companies will use different parts of the spectrum depending on the specific use.
For example, some cities might use lower bandwidths that are better able to communicate with phones, without losing power or distorting the data.
Whereas another company, that is working in a small city without distance, precipitation, or obstruction issues, might use a much higher frequency, shorter wavelength to maximize speeds.
So, we don’t know for sure what spectrums different telecom companies are going to use, but we do have some idea.
These companies have all, at least mentioned, what they are planning on using.
- T-Mobile: T-Mobile plans to use the low-band spectrum of (600 MHz) as well as the mid-band spectrum.
- Sprint: Sprint is trying to set itself apart from the competition by using a multitude of frequencies, so far they’ve announced three spectrum bands: 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz.
- Verizon: Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network uses millimeter waves, specifically 28 GHz and 39 GHz.
- AT&T: AT&T’s deployment strategy is to use millimeter wave spectrum for dense areas and mid and low-spectrum for more rural areas, to allow for further distances.
Where Will 5G Cell Towers Be Located?
Like we’ve talked about above, 5G will require an entirely new infrastructure of small cell towers. That means that for the average city or neighborhood, you are likely to eventually see them just about everywhere. From the side of your local library to the roofs of nearby stores, to the lamp pole just outside your home.
Take a look at this video to get a little better idea of how this is going to affect local neighborhoods.
Now, if what you got from watching that video, is that there is no chance that 5G is going to be dangerous, then you and I need to have a little talk, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
The importance of that video was to show you just how ubiquitous 5G cell towers will eventually be, and how this will affect our lives.
Basically, if you live in, or around, a larger city, you are likely to start encountering 5G small cell towers in the coming months. If you live in a more rural area, it will likely be a while, as the cost-to-income ratio’s don’t yet make sense for most cell carriers.
I also wrote up this full guide on exactly how to locate where 5G cell towers are near you.
Are There 5G Cell Towers In My City?
Now, this is something that you can actually already find out. The rollout of 5G can be broken down into three areas:
- Commercial 5G
- Limited Consumer 5G
- 5G Test Markets (Pre-Release)
Commercial 5G – This means that 5G is live and available to consumers and customers of the labeled carrier. Many cities around the world are already offering 5G to customers. To locate these cities and neighborhoods, use my guide here.
Limited Consumer 5G – There many cities around the world that are offering limited 5G availability to customers. As an example, AT&T has limited 5G availability in San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, and Los Angelas (and that is just California).
5G Test Markets (Pre-Release) – These are simply closed testing by telecom companies before they offer even limited commercial or consumer coverage. For example, Videotron is testing pre-release 5G in Montreal, Canada.
So, how do you find out if 5G cell towers are already in your area?
Well, there are a few ways, but I’ll walk you through my current favorite.
Go to the following website: https://www.speedtest.net/ookla-5g-map
Ookla is the company behind speedtest.net, probably the most commonly used internet speed-testing service, for WiFi, or cellular networks.
They’ve developed an interactive map, that allows you to view just about every 5G release worldwide, and in my opinion, they are doing a great job keeping the map updated.
You can filter the map based on the categories I outlined above.
For example, look at the screenshot below, where I zoomed in close to Los Angeles, California.
It shows that in LA, T-Mobile is offering commercial 5G availability, and AT&T is offering limited consumer availability. This means that without a doubt, there are 5G cell towers in Los Angeles. Since there is already infrastructure in that city, there is a much higher likelihood of 5G coming to surrounding cities and suburbs.
So, if you’re wondering if there are 5G cell towers in your city, or will be in the near future, check out the interactive map.
If you zoom out, you’ll see that 5G is being implemented all over the world.
Alright, now that we’ve talked extensively about what 5G cell towers are, how they work, the frequencies they’ll utilize, and where we can find them, it’s time to talk about something important.
Are 5G Cell Towers Dangerous?
I think it’s really important when talking comprehensively about 5G cell towers, to talk about their known, and potential dangers. However, I’ve talked about this more extensively in two other posts I wrote on 5G:
- 5G Radiation Dangers – The Definitive Guide
- How To Protect Yourself (And Your Family) From 5G Radiation
So, if you want a more complete picture, please give those articles a read. If you want a summarized version of the dangers specifically associated with 5G, and 5G cell towers, read on.
Basics of RF Radiation
First, assuming you haven’t read anything else on EMF Academy, we need to establish why Radio Frequency is dangerous.
Cell phones, when communicating with cell-towers, emit a type of EMF radiation, called Radio Frequency radiation. There is almost no argument that this type of radiation, in large doses, absolutely has adverse health effects.
The argument from telecom companies comes down to just how much radiation is actually harmful to the human body.
There are two exposure risks we need to factor in when talking about the danger of 5G cell towers. The radiation from the towers themselves, and the radiation from the phone you’re using to communicate with them.
Only one of these, the cell-phone, has any governmental mandates about its radiation limits.
This limit is based on something called Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR. Essentially what SAR is, is a measurement of how much radiation your body absorbs from a cell-phone. The limit depends on where you live, but here in the United States, the FCC has set a limit of 1.6 w/kg of body weight. That means no phone can be sold in the United States if using that phone would cause you to absorb more than 1.6 watts of radiation, for each kilogram of bodyweight.
I won’t go into it in this article, but there is a growing number of scientists, researchers, and activists (myself included) that feel that the SAR limit of 1.6, which was passed into law in 1996, is far outdated, and does not protect consumers.
Regardless, the point is that cell-phones, and the towers that connect them, do emit harmful radiation.
How do we know that they are harmful?
There have been a large number of studies, including:
Interphone Study – This extensive study looked at over 5000 cases of Glioma and Meningioma to determine what level of cell-phone use was observed. Ultimately they found that those with the highest exposure to RF radiation from cell-phones did have an increased chance of developing brain tumors during their lifetimes.
This study along with a mountain of other evidence was part of the reason that the World Health Organization classified RF radiation as a “possible carcinogen” in 2011, shortly after the study was published.
“The Influence of Being Physically Near To A Cell Phone Transmission Mast On the Incidence of Cancer. – This study evaluated the case histories of 1000 patients and looked at their health history in comparison to the proximity of their home to nearby cell towers.
The study ultimately found that there was a significant correlation between how close people lived to these cell-towers and their risk of developing cancer.
“The proportion of newly developing cancer cases was significantly higher among those patients who had lived during the past 10 years at a distance of up to 400 meters (1,300 feet) from the cellular transmitter site, which has been in operation since 1993, compared to those patients living further away, and that the patients fell ill on average eight years earlier.
Ramazzini Study –Perhaps one of the most frightening studies actually came out quite recently. The well respected Ramazzini Institute out of Italy studied how frequent exposure to RF radiation at levels consistent with legal cell-tower radiation affected their lives.
There are many more studies then that, but I want to get to talk a little bit about specifically why 5G cell towers are dangerous.
Alright, now it’s time to talk specifically about some of the ways that 5G radiation will specifically be harmful.
5G Radiation Dangers – What We Know
To start with, I want to give you a quote by Dr. Joel Moskowitz, a public health professor at the University of California:
‘The deployment of 5G, or fifth generation cellular technology, constitutes a massive experiment on the health of all species. Because MMWs are weaker than microwaves, they are predominantly absorbed by the skin, meaning their distribution is quite focused there.
He also mentioned that he believes that the millimeter waves that 5G will utilize will also adversely affect the skin, eyes, testes, nervous system, and sweat glands.
Next, I want to talk about an important letter, at least when it comes to the opposition to the 5G rollout.
In 2016, Dr. Yael Stein from the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem published a letter opposing the implementation of 5G and the MMW’s that it would require.
He addressed the letter to the United States Federal Communication Commission, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Dr. Stein began the letter by saying:
“A group of physicists from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, together with several physicians, have researched “G5” millimeter wave technology (Sub Terahertz frequencies) and its interaction with the human body. I am a physician who participated in this research.”
I’m not going to put the entire letter in this article, but I do want to include all of the conclusions that the team found because they are extremely important for understanding the danger of 5G (or G5 as they refer to it in the conclusions), and 5G cell towers.
The group’s conclusions were:
- Public exposure to millimeter waves, in the sub-Terahertz frequency range, is currently less common. If these devices fill the public space they will affect everyone, including the more susceptible members of the public: babies, pregnant women, the elderly, the sick and electro hypersensitive individuals.
- Human sweat ducts transmit and perhaps also receive electromagnetic waves that reflect the person’s emotional state, as an extension of the sympathetic nervous system that innervates sweat ducts
- These newly suggested physiologic and psychological functions of human sweat ducts have not yet been researched by neurophysiologists or by psychologists
- Computer simulations have demonstrated that sweat glands concentrate sub-terahertz waves in human skin. Humans could sense these waves as heat. The use of sub-terahertz (Millimeter wave) communications technology (cellphones, Wi-Fi, antennas) could cause humans to percept physical pain via nociceptors.
- Potentially, if G5 WI FI is spread in the public domain we may expect more of the health effects currently seen with RF/ microwave frequencies including many more cases of hypersensitivity (EHS), as well as many new complaints of physical pain and a yet unknown variety of neurologic disturbances.
- It will be possible to show a causal relationship between G5 technology and these specific health effects. The affected individuals may be eligible for compensation.
If you want to read more research specifically talking about the potential dangers of 5, the group over at saferemr.com put together a good compilation of research and letters related to 5G radiation that I would encourage you to check out when you have a chance.
Or, if you’d like to read a large collection of letters sent by various doctors and scientists on the dangers of 5G radiation and cell towers, the Environmental Health Trust put together a great list.
If you want to read more about my thoughts on 5G, why it’s dangerous, and what we can do about it, be sure to check out the following articles:
- 5G Radiation Dangers – The Definitive Guide
- How To Protect Yourself (And Your Family) From 5G Radiation
Now let’s cover a few related questions:
I’m going to give some briefer answers to a few other questions that I get asked often about this topic. If you need further information about any of these topics, please feel free to email me.
How Can I Protect Myself From 5G Towers?
Let me give you a summary of some of the ways that you can protect yourself and your family from 5G towers.
1. Use Distance
When it comes to EMF radiation in general, the most important thing you can do is get distance. There is a law of physics called the inverse square law of physics, that essentially states that as we double our distance from any source of radiation (including radio waves from a 5G tower), we quarter our exposure to it.
That means that any distance we can gain between where we spend time, and 5G towers, will help protect us. This will come in two ways:
- If possible, move to areas away from larger cities where 5G is being implemented.
- If there are already 5G towers in your neighborhood, try to move your rooms around, so that the rooms you spend the most time (like your bedroom) are further away from the towers.
2. Get An EMF Meter
This is something I recommend to just about everyone because having an EMF meter is probably the best tool you could ever have if you’re worried at all about EMF radiation. Without an EMF meter to measure how much radiation is being emitted from local 5G towers, it’s hard to know how much of it you’re being exposed to.
For example, you could walk your EMF meter out to the nearest cell tower, on a local light pole for example, and then walk back towards your home to see how the radiation falls off as you get farther away.
For now, since there really isn’t a better option, I’m recommending the Trifield TF2, which you can get on Amazon. At least at the time that I’m writing this, the Trifield can measure all currently installed 5g antennas because they all use the lower range. This may not always be the case. Here is what the Trifield website says about this:
The TF2 RF mode covers up to 6 GHz. All the present 5G deployed in the US is in this frequency range (in fact, it is all below 5 GHz). However, within the next few years, commercial deployment of 5G in the next higher band, a big jump up to 28 GHz, may begin. At present, no RF meter is commercially available that simultaneously detects this high frequency band and the lower frequencies. It is not clear yet whether the 28 GHz band will ever be widely deployed, because there are problems. Chief among the problems is that 28 GHz is very poor at penetrating to the inside of buildings or even through windows. Also it generally has to be line-of-sight.
This meter is also really easy to use, and a tool that you want to have with you all the time. It is chosen by many experts in the field and one I use myself when strictly testing for RF radiation exposures such as smart meters.
However, regardless of which EMF meter you choose, just be sure that it can measure RF radiation, and not just magnetic and electric, like some of the less expensive meters.
Remember that EMF radiation includes electric field, magnetic field, and radiofrequency radiation and that when it comes to 5G, we are only concerned about the radiofrequency radiation.
If you want to learn more about EMF meters or find out which is best for you, you can check out my full guide here.
3. Consider Getting An EMF Protection Bed Canopy
Protecting your body while you sleep from EMF radiation is extremely important. Not only has EMF radiation been shown to reduce the quality of our sleep, but our bodies are also more vulnerable to the potential biological harm from 5G.
An EMF protection bed canopy is just what it sounds like. It is a canopy, made of a silver mesh that blocks EMF radiation, that you drape over your bed while you sleep. if you want to learn more about these canopies or see which ones I recommend, you can check out my guide here.
It’s important to note though, that these canopies are only effective if you don’t have ANY EMF radiation-emitting devices inside with you. That means no:
- Cell Phones
- Smart Watches
- Alarm Clocks
Or anything else at all that emits EMF’s. The same material that blocks out the EMF radiation, will also keep it inside and amplify the harm.
4. Advocate Against 5G
I promise you won’t be alone in the fight. In fact, advocacy groups all around the world are doing all they can to at least slow the rollout of 5G until further studies can be done.
Many of these groups are spending time in front of their local legislature, begging for regulations to protect people against the potential harm of 5G until more studies can be done.
If you’re wanting to join a group, just do some searching online for groups in your state, province, or country, you’re sure to. find something.
If you feel so inclined to try and fight against this, the Parents for Safe Technology have put together a fantastic resource outlining a host of ways that you can speak out against 5G.
It includes agency email addresses and phone numbers, as well as education and stock letters to help you.
You can find all the information you need on their Take Action page.
Honestly, fighting against the implementation of 5G is one of the best possible ways to protect yourself, and your family, from the potential harm.
How Close Do 5G Cell Towers Need To Be?
This depends largely on what frequency the carrier that owns the towers is utilizing in that area. As we talked about above, the higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength, the shorter the distance it can travel. This means that the 5G small cell towers would need to be closer to one another.
As a general rule, from everything I have read, I would assume that in most cities 5G towers will not be more than 500 feet apart in order to get full coverage to the people using the network.
However, we’ll know much more as the rollout continues in major cities.
What Does 5G Do To Your Body?
It’s hard to say specifically what 5G will do to the body since we have not been able to test it on full, live networks. However, as Dr. Moskowitz mentions, it could potentially harm the skin, eyes, testes, nervous system, and sweat glands.
We also know that EMF radiation from cell towers, which will include 5G cell towers, can potentially increase risks of certain cancers.
Will 5G Require More Towers?
Yes, 5G will in fact require an entirely new infrastructure of towers to support its network. Early estimates outline as many as 300,000 small cell 5G towers for larger cities. For comparison, that is about the number of cell towers that have been built total for current networks over the last three decades.
However, these towers won’t be the large cell towers you are used to seeing, they will instead be small, about the size of a large backpack. These 5G towers will also be much closer to you, instead of being spread out.
Does 5G Penetrate Walls?
The general answer is yes, 5G is capable of penetrating walls, however, it is significantly worse at it then frequencies used for current 3G and 4G networks. It comes down to something called attenuation.
In physics, attenuation is defined as the gradual loss of force as something passes through a material. So, radio waves are capable of passing through things like walls, but attenuation means that they will dramatically lose their force as they do so.
So, yes, 5G frequencies are capable of penetrating things, but it is not their strength.
Will 5G Eliminate Cell Towers
Not at all. In fact, it will just add to the total number of cell-towers in the world. Although 5G will not utilize any of the current cellular infrastructures, 4G will still be around for many years, so those towers won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Some pundits believe that removing the current, large cell towers, may actually be less cost-effective for telecom companies than just leaving them in place.
Only time will tell, but for now, expect 5G to not eliminate any cell towers whatsoever.
Final Thoughts on 5G Cell Towers
I hope that you found that this article fully covered everything you would want to know about 5G cell towers, including what they are, how they work, and why they could potentially be dangerous.
If you feel that I left anything out or was incorrect about anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know.