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Telecom corporations are trying to push through legislation that makes it easier and cheaper for them to expand their highly profitable wireless networks. Here are our primary arguments for each of the two bills, plus additional charts, fact sheets and talking points you can use in your lobbying efforts. 

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SB- 556
AB- 537
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Digital Divide Flyer

Why California Shouldn’t Fast-Track Wireless Antennas

It won’t fix the digital divide, wireless networks consume more energy than wired networks, property values near antennas are declining, small wireless facilities increase the risk of fires, telecom corporations are not insured for health claims, government research proves that exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) causes cancer, wireless networks are more easily hacked, and there’s already a much better, safer, faster, more reliable and more affordable solution for broadband connectivity.


1. The digital divide is no accident; it’s an economic choice made by telecoms.


  • Running cable and installing expensive antennas in rural or poor communities doesn’t make economic sense for the telecom corporations.

  • Legislation making it easier and cheaper for telecoms to build their wireless networks will not change basic economics: rural and minority communities will not magically get connected.

  • Telecoms have been promising to connect everyone in California with fiber since 2002, using it to justify rate increases.

  • The money which was supposed to pay for connecting everyone with fiber was used instead to build out wireless networks which are much more profitable for the telecoms.


2. Insurance companies refuse to insure telecoms against liability related to RFR exposure from wireless antennas; cities and counties could be liable.

  • Because insurance companies refuse to cover wireless companies for health claims related to exposure to RFR, liability could fall on cities and towns. A growing number of Americans with Disabilities Act claims are being filed across the country; municipalities are liable.

  • In its 2019 New Emerging Risks SONAR Report, Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest insurance companies, classified 5G as a “high impact" liability” risk. The report stated, “Existing concerns regarding potential negative health effects from electromagnetic fields (EMF) are only likely to increase.”

  • The Electromagnetic Fields Exclusion … is applied across the market as standard. The exclusion includes: “Bodily injury, property damage, or personal and advertising injury…..provided that such injury or damage results from or is contributed to by the pathological properties of electromagnetic radiation.” 


3.  Both U.S. and international scientific research shows that exposure to RFR causes cancer as well as organ and DNA damage.


  • The ability of RFR exposure to cause serious illness, once believed to be impossible, has been firmly established by the U. S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

  • A major $25 million study by the U.S. National Toxicology Program of the NIH found “clear evidence” of cancer and increased incidence of DNA damage in laboratory animals.

  • The largest long-term study ever performed on the health effects of RFR from antennas (far-field exposures) was conducted by the Ramazzini Institute, which is partially funded by grants from the NIH. The study reported an increase in the incidence of tumors of the brain and heart which were consistent with and reinforce the results of the NIH study.

  • The American Cancer Society’s statement on the significance of this study: “The NTP report linking radiofrequency radiation (RFR) to two types of cancer marks a paradigm shift in our understanding of radiation and cancer risk. The findings are unexpected; we wouldn’t reasonably expect non-ionizing radiation to cause these tumors.”

  •  Telecom corporations want to place their antennas in close proximity to homes, schools and places of work. Increasing exposure to this documented public health risk is going against the tide of science which continues to show biological harm from wireless exposure – especially concerning is the increased risk to children and pregnant women.


4. Small wireless facilities (and other wireless infrastructure) can catch fire with potentially catastrophic results.


  • Small cell antennas are powerful electrical devices, and when they ignite, they cannot be controlled with traditional firefighting strategies.

  • Power to the antenna and to the larger infrastructure must be shut off before the fire can be extinguished, causing a potentially deadly delay.

  • Storms or accidents can cause poles with antennas to fall, increasing the risk of catastrophic fire.

  • The 2007 Malibu Canyon fire was determined to be caused when overloaded power poles snapped during high Santa Ana winds, igniting nearby dry brush. The poles had small cell wireless antennas on them from AT&T, Sprint (now T-Mobile) and Verizon Wireless, with one of them overloaded with telecommunications equipment, in violation of sound engineering principles.  The California Public Utilities Commission approved a $12 million settlement with the four telecom corporations, including NextG (now Crown Castle). The fire burned 3,836 acres, destroyed 36 vehicles and 14 structures, damaged 19 others and injured three firefighters. 

5.  Data show that property values are lower for homes located near “small cell” wireless antennas and cell towers.


  • An article published in the journal of the National Realtor’s Association found that 94 percent of homebuyers are “less interested and would pay less” for a property located near a cell tower or antenna. 

  • Homeowners with wireless antennas on or near their property report lower- than- expected sales prices, as well as buyers backing out of contracts when they realized the homes were “bathed” in radiation from antennas offering 5G services that need to be in close proximity to users.

  • Recent studies showing that home buyers “prioritize 5G” were sponsored by the telecom industry. It is unlikely that survey questions mentioned antennas, but survey questions were not released.

6.  Wireless transmissions are easier for hackers to penetrate compared to more secure fiberoptic connections to homes, schools and businesses.


  • Wireless networks are easier to hack than wired networks. Chris Krebs, former United States Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, says, "Data on 5G networks will flow through interconnected cellular towers, small cells, and mobile devices that may provide malicious actors additional vectors to intercept, manipulate, or destroy critical data. Malicious actors could also introduce device vulnerabilities into the 5G supply chain to compromise unsecured wireless systems and exfiltrate critical infrastructure data." Link to full testimony here.

  • To hack a wired network you need a physical connection; for wireless, all you need is a wireless-enabled laptop.

  • According to Aberdeen Cyber Security, a leading security firm, “Wired networks perform better than wireless networks and are more secure than wireless networks.”


7. Wireless broadband connectivity will have a significant negative impact on energy consumption vs. wired fiber to the premises.


  • Wireless antennas require significant amount of power to transmit signals, while fiberoptic (wired) broadband connections require virtually none.

  • The number of small cell antennas required to implement 5G coverage will significantly increase power requirements at a time when California is seeking to reduce its carbon footprint.

  • 5G base stations consume up to 300% more energy than 4G base stations. 



The wired common sense solution that will benefit everyone

has already been paid for by California telephone customers:


Fiber-optic to the Premises (FTTP)


Jobs, jobs, jobs!

More affordable than wireless

As fast or faster than wireless

100% safe – no health concerns

Won’t fail in severe weather

Fully insured – no liability

No fire or accident risk

No impact on property values

More secure – less hacking risk

Insignificant impact on energy consumption

Future proof – no new equipment needed

VOTE NO ON SB-556 and AB-537

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