5G: The Big Picture

April 30, 2019

Increasingly intense exposure of the natural environment and all living creatures, including ourselves, to more and more electromagnetic radiation.

n November of 2018, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorised the rocket company SpaceX, owned by the entrepreneur Elon Musk, to launch a fleet of 7,518 satellites to complete SpaceX’s ambitious scheme to provide global satellite broadband services to every corner of the Earth.

The satellites will operate at a height of approximately 210 miles, and irradiate the Earth with extremely high frequencies between 37.5 GHz and 42 GHz. This fleet will be in addition to a smaller SpaceX fleet of 4,425 satellites, already authorised earlier in the year by the FCC, which will orbit the Earth at a height of approximately 750 miles and is set to bathe us in frequencies between 12 GHz and 30 GHz. The grand total of SpaceX satellites is thus projected to reach just under 12,000.

There are at present approximately two thousand fully functioning satellites orbiting the Earth. Some beam down commercial GPS (or “SatNav”), some provide TV, some provide mobile phone services, and some bounce radar back and forth to produce images for meteorologists and military surveillance. The Earth is thus already comprehensively irradiated from outer space.

But the new SpaceX fleets will constitute a massive increase in the number of satellites in the skies above us, and a correspondingly massive increase in the radiation reaching the Earth from them. The SpaceX satellite fleet is, however, just one of several that are due to be launched in the next few years, all serving the same purpose of providing global broadband services. Other companies, including Boeing, One Web and Spire Global are each launching their own smaller fleets, bringing the total number of projected new broadband satellites to around 20,000 – every one of them dedicated to irradiating the Earth at similar frequencies (fig. 1). 1

… what is really driving it is the creation of the conditions within which electronic or “artificial” intelligence will be able to assume an ever greater presence in our lives.

Why is there this sudden flurry of activity? The new satellite fleets are contributing to a concerted global effort to “upgrade” the electromagnetic environment of the Earth. The upgrade is commonly referred to as 5G, or fifth generation wireless network. It has become customary in tech circles to talk about the introduction of 5G as involving the creation of a new global “electronic ecosystem”.

It amounts to geo-engineering on a scale never before attempted. While this is being sold to the public as an enhancement of the quality of video streaming for media and entertainment, what is really driving it is the creation of the conditions within which electronic or “artificial” intelligence will be able to assume an ever greater presence in our lives.

In a previous article for New View, (“Radiation, Robot Bees and 5G”, New View, 85, Autumn 2017), I described how the introduction of 5G will require hundreds of thousands of new mini mobile phone masts (also referred to as “base stations”) in urban centres throughout the UK, and literally millions of new masts in cities throughout the rest of the world, all emitting radiation at frequencies and at power levels far higher than those to which we are presently subjected.

These new masts are much smaller than the masts we currently see beside our motorways and on top of buildings. They will be discreetly attached to the side of shops and offices or secured to lampposts.

The 20,000 satellites are a necessary supplement to this land-based effort, for they will guarantee that rural areas, lakes, mountains, forests, oceans and wildernesses, where there are neither buildings nor lampposts, will all be incorporated into the new electronic infrastructure. Not one inch of the globe will be free of radiation.

Given the scale of the project, it is surprising how few people are aware of the enormity of what is now just beginning to unfold all around us. Very few people have even heard about the 20,000 new satellites that are due to transform the planet into a so-called “smart planet”, irradiating us night and day. In the national media, we do not hear voices questioning the wisdom, let alone the ethics, of geo-engineering a new global electromagnetic environment.

But the question we should ask is whether we also want increasingly intense exposure of the natural environment and all living creatures, including ourselves, to more and more electromagnetic radiation.

Instead, there is a blithe acceptance that technology must continue to progress, and the presence in our lives of increasingly “smart” machines and gadgets that each year become cleverer and more capable is an inevitable part of this progress. And who doesn’t want progress? Almost everyone loves their sleek and seductively designed phones, pads and virtual assistants, and regards them as an indispensible part of their lives.

But the question we should ask is whether we also want increasingly intense exposure of the natural environment and all living creatures, including ourselves, to more and more electromagnetic radiation. Is it likely that this does not entail any adverse health consequences, as both government and industry claim? If the electromagnetic waves that connect our smartphones to the Internet travel through brick, stone and cement, then what happens when these same waves encounter our bodies?

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