Telecom Power Grab

By Lesley Weinstock   |   August 16, 2021

There are several bills pending in the California legislature, including Senate Bill 556 and Assembly Bill 537, that will severely limit our right to determine where new wireless antennas for 5G service will be placed in Santa Barbara County.

Corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Verizon wrote these wireless broadband bills. ALEC rewrites state laws that govern our rights in almost every area of American life, most directly benefiting huge corporations.

These bills are intended to boost telecom profits by fast-tracking the local approval process, making it easier and faster for telecoms to place their 5G antennas in residential neighborhoods, in front of our homes, even if they might pose a fire or safety hazard — negatively impact property values, threatening the health of nearby residents, and the quiet enjoyment of our streets.

These antennas are not needed to improve phone service. These bills absolutely do not close the digital divide in unserved and underserved communities. Wired broadband, aka fiber to the premises, should be affordable, available, and accessible to all. That is what will close the digital divide. These broadband bills demolish our local control and promote rapid deployment of wireless transmission facilities all over California. They remove all local government and neighborhood decision-making and give it directly to the Telecom corporations.

Wireless service is slower, less reliable, easier to hack, much less energy efficient, and more expensive than fiber-optic cable. The radiation they emit has been proven by the National Institutes of Health to cause cancer. The wireless telecom industry is not insurable. It cannot get insurance for fires and other injuries.

Most California state senators and assembly members, heavily lobbied by the billion-dollar telecom industry, have been misinformed and are supporting these bills that place the interests of big business over the rights of citizens.

Please join the many residents and constituents in California and contact the legislators, when these bills come up for committee or floor votes. Let them know we have a right to protect our families, our privacy, safety, health, and property by allowing our local elected officials, not the telecoms, to determine the placement and modification of wireless telecom facilities. AB 537 and SB 556 are scheduled for committee and floor votes from August 16 to 28. Please email and call relevant senators and assembly-members and urge them to oppose SB-556 and AB-537.

These terrible bills are an attempt by the telecommunications industry to undermine local authority. We must not put the telecom corporations in charge of where and how many antennas and towers are installed. Stop this all-encompassing telecom power grab and do not deregulate the telecom industry and allow them to make the rules.

Editor’s note: Safe Technology for Santa Barbara County is an organization that is “here to educate our community about the adverse cumulative effects of invisible wireless Radio Frequency Radiation (RFR) and advocate for safe technology.” Meanwhile, Americans for Responsible Technology says it exists to “educate the public about science-based health risks associated with exposure to wireless radiation; Promote the safe and responsible use of current and emerging technologies.”

Lesley Weinstock represents Safe Technology for Santa Barbara County and Americans for Responsible Technology


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