CARMEL—5G cellular networks are the next big thing in digital technology, promising much faster Internet connections in homes and businesses.
5G has already arrived in Indianapolis and some of its suburbs, including Carmel. But is it safe to be around? That's a question some members of the Carmel Common Council are asking.
Monday, the council, by a 4-3 vote, approved a resolution calling on state lawmakers to take action to protect Hoosiers from any harmful effects of 5G technology.
One of the resolution's supporters, Councilor Ron Carter, says he doesn't want Carmel to be against progress, but he feels more needs to be known about 5G.
Specifically, the resolution "requests the Indiana State Legislature to take all necessary steps to thoroughly study the effects of 5G technology on humans and to immediately suspend the deployment and use of this technology in Indiana until scientific evidence conclusively establishes that it poses no harm to humans."
The resolution cites "conflicting scientific data and a lack of consensus as to the effects of 5G technology on humans."
In a recent Call 6 Investigates report, some Carmel homeowners raised concerns about the small cell towers used for 5G that are popping up all over town.
Unless you know what to look for, it’s easy to miss the circular structures mounted on top of light poles.
“It blends in but hides the fact that it is an actual cell antenna which is emitting radiofrequency radiation,” Gail Thomas, a stay-at-home mom who has lived in Carmel for five years, said.
In recent months, she’s grown concerned about the installation of small cell towers around Carmel.
“The big reason that concerns me is the proximity to homes,” Thomas said. “They’re actually inching closer and closer to houses. And that matters because we don’t want to put an unknown risk near our homes before we know a little bit more about what radiofrequency can do.”
On a black box near a small cell tower on Shelbourne, a sticker reads, “Radio frequency fields beyond this point may exceed FCC limits for the general public.”
Another warning sticker is so high up on the pole, no one can read it.
“You really need to be up on a ladder,” Thomas said.
Call 6 Investigates could not find any notification procedure in place requiring companies or cities to notify homeowners or businesses know when a small cell structure is installed.
The President of the Carmel Cable and Telecommunications Commission, Winston Long, is concerned about the impact on health.
In a September 19 memo to the Carmel City Council, Long pointed to a U.S. Health and Human Services study from November 2018 that found radio frequency radiation like that used in 2G and 3G cell phones led to cancer and tumors in male rats.
Long asked city leaders to “immediately pause the installation of small cell antennas until more scientific data is available.”
Until now, the city’s Board of Public Works has approved the towers.
Kerwin Olson of the Citizens Action Coalition said a halt is needed not just in Carmel, but across the entire state of Indiana.
“That study looked at 2G and 3G technology, let alone 4G and 5G which is a much higher frequency,” Olson said. “The public is not being notified, there’s been no community meetings.”
Call 6 Investigates checked with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the state agency that oversees utilities, and a they could not tell us how many small cell towers have been installed in Indiana.
The IURC has limited authority over wireless providers, so companies don’t have to notify them when installing the towers.