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As expected, the Federal Communications Commission today voted to adopt new wireless broadband rules that will open up so-called "5G" networks that will move more data faster than ever before.

The vote opens frequencies above 24 GHz, a move the FCC says makes the United States "the first country in the world to make this spectrum available for next generation wireless services," but the decision is causing static among health advocates who say it disregards a growing body of evidence that wireless communications is to blame for a supposed epidemic of brain cancers.

Because the frequencies are so high, the signals don't travel as far as lower frequencies do and therefore will require many times more cell towers than current technologies. As Wheeler put it in a June 20 speech at the National Press Club: “5G build out is going to be very infrastructure intensive, requiring a massive deployment of small cells.”

Engineers say that nearly every home and lampost will be outfitted with a small "tower" -- a tiny antenna that transmits and receives signals for nearby residents and acts as a relay station for other wireless traffic.

"An epidemic"

PhotoThis is alarming to some health advocates, who say that at least 10% of the population has already developed "electro-sensitivity" -- heightened sensitivity to wireless transmissions, similar to allergies. 

“We are currently in the midst of an epidemic,” said Dafne Tachover, CEO of "We Are The Evidence," an advocacy group representing people who say they have been injured by wireless radiation.

Representatives of various activist groups descended on Washington this week to lobby Congress and regulators about the potential dangers of wireless radiation and to "convey the views of a growing number of people who would choose health over an 'Internet of Everything,'" as the California Brain Tumor Association and other groups said in a news release.

More tasks, faster

The wireless industry says 5G is safe and will make it possible for wireless devices to perform more tasks and to do so more quickly and efficiently than is now possible.

Industry trade group CTIA lists these benefits of 5G

1. 5G will be at least 10 times faster than 4G.

2. 5G will allow for more than 100 times the devices for everything from cars to homes to health monitors.

3. 5G will be five times more responsive so that there’s very little delay time.

4. If you stopped a car in 4G, it would take 4.6 feet to apply its brakes while a 5G car would start braking in 1 inch.

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