Welcome to Tech Wise Takoma Park

We are a growing group of concerned Takoma Park, MD residents who oppose the rapid rollout of a dense network of "small" cell antennas for current 3G and 4G, and future 5G wireless technologies emitting radio frequency (RF) radiation, without proper investigation into their effects on the environment and the health of humans and wildlife.

We are concerned about FCC orders and other federal restrictions that aim to strip away local authority over cell tower siting and prevent using health concerns in decision making. We also face a new telecom-friendly bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would shrink our local authority over cell tower decisions even more. And behind it all: Intense pressure from the wireless industry to be free to pack these facilities in our neighborhoods as densely as they choose—and as close as they like to our homes, schools, offices and parks.

Are you new to the subject of small cell wireless & 5G?

This video gives a good overview.

This issue has health, environmental, social justice, property value, data security, and privacy consequences

- everyone will be affected in ways that matter to them!

Our mission for this group is threefold:

  • To spread information about the risks from these antennas and other related technologies infringing on our homes and public spaces — including the growing research evidence about the health risks of Radio Frequency (RF) radiation, as well as the threat to our privacy;

 

  • To help all members of our community know their rights and organize to protect these rights, and the health and safety of ourselves, our families, and our shared environment; and

 

  • To engage the City of Takoma Park and our Montgomery County, State of Maryland, and federal governments in advocating for the protection of the health and safety of residents and the environment in their laws, policies, and regulations on these matters.

 

What is happening with 3G/4G cell antennas, small cells and the new 5G in Takoma Park and Montgomery County?

For years Montgomery County Maryland residents have been voicing their concerns on the health, safety, security, privacy, zoning, and equity issues surrounding the siting and permitting of wireless transmission facilities in their neighborhoods. This ehtrust.org article, "Maryland Residents Halt Small Cell 5G Pre-emption Bill and Continue to Fight 5G at Local Level" provides some background.

Here are a few testimony videos from the Montgomery County Public Hearings on ZTA-18-02 and ZTA 18-11.

Several Residents speak during the public commenting at the Montgomery County Hearing on Small Cells Near Homes April 2, 2018.

Family Gets Cell Tower in Front Yard Despite Application Mistake! Montgomery County Brickyard Rd

Rick Meyer, President of Montgomery County Coalition for the Control of Cell Towers (mc4t.org) describes issues with the cell tower permitting process and mistakes made.

Rick Meyer: “Many communities require notice provisions particularly for cell poles constructed in residential zones. These rules are intended to engage the community to help local governments prevent mistakes and keep applicants within the scope and the scale of their permits. Not so in Montgomery County where for seven years since small cells were first introduced, residents have been totally locked out of review and permitting processes…No notice, no input and because we're purposely kept in the dark by the tower committee, the public must rely exclusively on an overworked and understaffed department of permitting services to prevent construction mistakes on wireless attachments to utility poles in the rights-of-way. In my testimony in April, I summarized MC4T’s physical inventory of more than 50 cell poles around the county, we found that more than half of these small cell facilities were non-conforming to the tower committee recommendations; too tall; inside minimum setbacks; oversized with too many antennas; installed without conditional use hearings and even installed in the wrong poles at the wrong addresses.”

Watch Rick Meyer's Full Testimony on YouTube

That proposed new law, ZTA 18-11, would have changed the current setback (the distance towers must be from buildings) from 60 feet to 30 feet in residential zones. Thanks to strong resident opposition and the responsive leadership of County Councilmember Tom Hucker, it failed to pass. But earlier in 2018, another proposal did pass, reducing setbacks in all commercial and commercial/residential zones to just 10 feet. That includes any residential apartment or condo building in such zones! So small cell towers can be placed as close as 10 feet away from the homes of Montgomery County residents who live in such zones -- many of whom are renters, often with low or moderate incomes, often families of color, and often immigrants.  OUTRAGEOUS!!!

City of Takoma Park

Many of us attended the Teach-In November 30th organized by Community Vision For Takoma (CVT) on the health, safety, and equity issues around small cell towers and related new 5G technology, and very actively advocated for strong provisions in the City’s related new ordinance to protect the public interests as rigorously as possible. We’re working now to help make sure the regulations to implement the new ordinance – which the City hopes to finalize by early April – are also as strong as possible. Read more on the Take Action - City of Takoma Park page.

View the Take Action-Maryland page to learn more about the Maryland State bills that silence our voices and likely obliterate local laws – laws that we as a community have crafted to protect our homes and families. These bills will allow telecommunication companies to place their cell towers with little to no regard for the safety of our community.

While Maryland considers small cell legislation, the City is working on drafting the regulations.

Let the Mayor and City Council know you expect residents to be informed and consulted early and often as City regulations are drafted to implement our new ordinance. Insist we be notified right away as applications for cell towers in Takoma Park are received.

Cell Tower Application information (The City Manager says that applications have started coming in, they expect more to come in and that they are working on sharing the information about the tower applications soon.)

City Manager Suzanne Ludlow's Comment during the  February 27, 2019 City Council Meeting:

"Cell Tower Administrative Regulations Update The City has engaged attorney Mark Del Bianco to assist with the development of administrative regulations consistent with the Council’s recently adopted Ordinance that amends the City's Code pertaining to Permits and Improvements in order to regulate the installation of telecommunications equipment in City rights-of-way. Mr. Del Bianco has over 25 years of experience with communications law. Over the last two years, a large part of his practice has involved advising residents and concerned non-profit groups on small cell zoning and rollout issues at the county, state and federal levels (see, for example, https://nextcenturycities.org/wpcontent/uploads/Guide-to-FCC-Small-Cell-Order.pdf). The general goal of these projects has been to maximize – within the framework established by the governing federal and state laws and regulations – local control of the small cell rollout process and consideration of the concerns of local stakeholders."

City Manager Suzanne Ludlow's Comment during the April 17, 2019 City Council Meeting:

"Transmission Facilities Coordination Group (Tower Commission) Update Just this morning, the Chair of the Transmission Facilities Coordination Group contacted the City to let us know that she had received approval from the County Executive’s Office to have a representative of the City appointed to the group. Public Works Director Daryl Braithwaite will be our representative and Construction Manager Ian Chamberlain will be the alternate."

To learn more about existing and proposed cell antenna and cell tower locations in Takoma Park, view the Takoma Park Cell Antenna and Tower Information page.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich answers two 5G small cell tower questions at his Takoma Park listening tour Dec. 1, 2019

Where are the current wireless transmission facilities & cell antennas located? How can I find out where new cell antennas or new towers are going to be installed?

 

On the Cell Tower Locations & Applications Page

Wireless Education Communications Director Cece Doucette gave a talk at the Burlington Public Library on research she has conducted on the dangers of WiFi and electromagnetic fields that she argues includes increased rates of cancer and risks to small and unborn children

Environmental Health Trust Top 20 Facts on 5G:
What You Need to Know About 5G Wireless and "Small" Cells

  1. 5G “small” cell antennas are to be placed in neighborhoods everywhere. 
  2. The radiation from small cells is not small.
  3. Millions of small cells are to be built in front yards in the name of 5G.
  4. 5G will add an extra layer  — not replace — our current wireless technology.
  5. Community authority is being overruled at every level.
  6. Cell phone companies have confirmed that 5G “small” cell towers do not need to be placed every hundred feet (despite industry statements that densely placed small cells are needed in close vicinity to homes).
  7. Scientists worldwide are calling for a halt to the 5G Roll-out.
  8. Cumulative daily radiation exposure is associated with serious health effects.
  9. Scientists state that wireless radiation is a human carcinogen.
  10. Antennas near homes decrease property values.
  11. Experts state that 5G Small Cell Wireless streaming bills do not make financial sense.
  12. Microwave antennas in front yards present several worker and public safety issues.
  13. Fiber is the solution and the safe alternative.
  14. Wireless Companies warn investors of risks but neglect to inform consumers and neighbors living near towers.
  15. Antennas near our homes will affect our sleep.
  16. Cellular Radiation Negatively Impacts Birds and Bees
  17. US Cities and Entire Countries are voting to halt 5G
  18. The FCC is not monitoring radiation exposures from cell installations and many cell towers are in violation of the radiation limits.
  19. The American Academy of Pediatrics is one of many medical organizations that is calling for federal action to protect children.
  20. Firefighters fought hard to oppose 5G small cells in California.

Learn more about 5G & Small Cell Radiation Risks and watch testimony from our neighbors in DC and surrounding Montgomery County cities at public hearings in the subsection Resources.

I see “5G" in my WiFi router and phone, does this mean they are already using 5G?

 

No. The “5G” you see in WiFi routers means “5 GHz”. This is NOT the same as actual 5G which means “5th Generation” infrastructure.  Actual 5G (“5th Generation”) is planned to operate at 25-90+ GHz frequencies.  Is it just a coincidence that we see this “5G” option popping up? Or a purposeful attempt to get people to gain acceptance and familiarity with the term 5G?

Long-term exposure to these higher frequencies has never been tested, although exposure to the lower frequencies of 2G and 3G have been linked to cancer, immune dysfunction, infertility, altered brain development, sleep and memory disturbances, and many other adverse health effects.

"The "race to 5G" is not really a race at all, except perhaps among wireless companies to see who can be first to market with their products and services.

5G will not necessarily bring broadband to under-served or rural communities; fiber-optic cable is still required to do that. It will not solve the digital divide; 5G will offer faster download speeds, but it will come at a hefty price for consumers.  And 5G will not immediately improve cell phone service, or assist first-responders in an emergency. It's not required for autonomous cars.

Then what's the real purpose of 5G? This massive build-out of "small cell" wireless infrastructure is to enable  telecom companies to beam their signals into homes and apartments without having to install a cable. It's that simple. " Read more at telecompowergrab.org.

If you are curious to know more about the history of the corporate takeover of government regulation on these issues, please see the following:

Then FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, former senior lobbyist, Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA). FCC Press Conference on 5G | Washington, DC | June 20, 2016

Watch an edited version by Josh Del Sol on YouTube.

Be sure to catch what Tom says in the NPC video at time 15:10: "Yes 5G will connect the Internet of Everything. If something can be connected it will be connected in the 5G world. But with the predictions of hundreds of billions of microchips connected in products from pill bottles to plant waterers. You can be sure of only one thing, the biggest Internet of Things application has yet to be imagined."

And on to a related subject...

The Rise of Surveillance Capitalism

Join The Intercept’s senior correspondent Naomi Klein and Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff, author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power,” for an engaging discussion about the unprecedented form of power called “surveillance capitalism” and the quest by corporations to predict and control our behavior.

Author Shoshana Zuboff - Time:18:00: "They call us users, and yet here we are across countries, across cities, experiencing so many of the same concerns. I say we are not users. I say we are bound in new psychological, social, political, as well as economic interests… that we have not yet invented the words to describe the ways that we are bound. We have not yet invented the forms of collective action to express the interests that bind us, and that is a big part of the work that must follow in this year, and the next year, and the year after that, if we are to ultimately interrupt and outlaw what I view as a pernicious rogue capitalism that has no business dominating our society."

At Time 20:42: "Throughout its history capitalism claims things that live outside the market dynamic, and it brings them into the market dynamic, so that they can become commodities to be sold and purchased.[…] Industrialized capitalism claimed nature for the market dynamic; that it could be reborn as real estate, as land, to be sold, to be purchased… It claimed work for the market dynamic, that it could be reclaimed as labor, wage labor, to be sold and purchased. Surveillance capitalism follows in this pathway but with a dark and strange twist because now surveillance capitalism went in search of the last virgin wood… and what it found was private human experience… and what it does is to unilaterally claim private human experience for the market dynamic, that it can be reborn as behavioral data… private human experience claimed as a free source of raw material to be reborn as behavioral data. In the logic of surveillance capitalism these behavioral data are sent into its production processes… elaborate supply chains that capture these behavioral data from every aspect of our lives and activities.”

At Time 1:23:39: "I believe that we will discover the new forms of relevant collective action and we're already seeing this around the world I've just been in in Brussels where I  spent time with Francesca Bria who's the chief technology officer for Barcelona I'm sure some people in this room knows know what's going on in Barcelona where they're you know they're they're trying to do the smart city in the way that we own it that it's our data our lives and our city that the smart city is a democratic municipality it is the citizens city".

At Time 1:24:50: “There will be a role for commerce in the connected sphere, I don’t see that going away. What I do see gong away is that the whole think is owned and operated by surveillance capital; that you can’t get your children’s grades from the school without marching through surveillance capital supply chains; that you can’t get your health data without marching through its supply chains; that you can’t plan dinner with your family and friends without marching through its supply chains… This is intolerable, this is illegitimate, this is unacceptable…This is a draconian quid pro quo that we should not be forced to make as 21st century citizens.”

It isn't too hard to conclude that the massive build-out of "small cell" wireless infrastructure will be an amazingly huge enabler of surveillance capitalists and their partners in the surveillance industrial complex.

photo showing a wireless transmitter near a home where a 3 year-old child lives.

Take action and protect your neighborhood from the Telecom land grab.

How can we reduce our radiation exposure?

Please view our subsection "Resources" for information.

Use corded phones at home. Keep cell phones on airplane mode when not texting or making calls, use speaker or air-tube headsets on calls, and keep all wireless devices away from the body.

Turn off your WiFi router at night and other times when you don't need it. Wire your devices with ethernet.

Americans for Responsible Technology

What if my neighbor's wireless radiation is reaching our home?

Talk to them. Many people are unaware of the risks of wireless radiation. Share information on social media, your email lists, and parenting groups.

What can I do about smart meter radiation?

There are a lot of folks organizing around the country on this issue. Internet searching yields this group: Maryland Smart Meter Awareness.

Many routers have a calendar function for setting the on/off times.

Why are so few people aware of the dangers of RF microwave radiation?

The telecom industry is very powerful and they spend between $60-80 million a year lobbying our congress.  They have 536 full-time lobbyists, more than 1 for every member of congress!  They have worked very hard to keep the truth hidden because they know the truth will hurt the industry. (Read all of the Citizens for 5G Awareness FAQs)

See also: Project Censored #4 2018 - How Big Wireless Convinced Us Cell Phones and Wi-Fi are Safe

We encourage you to do your own research, draw your own conclusions, and act accordingly to protect yourself and those you love.

Talk to your neighbors. Help bring awareness to small cell wireless technology, 5G, and the un-democratic dynamics in play.