Regarding the proposed emergency broadband action plan, I’ve heard some say “everyone wants wireless- everyone wants 5G.” This Vermonter strongly disagrees with this statement and I know many who feel as I do. There are ample reasons why the wireless approach is a bad idea but perhaps the strongest and most indisputable reason is that it is vastly inferior in a number of ways to FTTP, fiber to the premises.

Wireless technology is not easily achieved in Vermont’s mountainous terrain — the signal has too many obstacles to be readily sent to all of the places it needs to reach. Wireless technology consumes 10 times more energy while it is being utilized, than FTTP. Wireless is less reliable and is not as secure in terms of data and privacy protection. In terms of 5G, the 5G signal does not carry far so requires a greatly increased number of closely spaced transmitters and is easily blocked by leaves or other natural obstacles which would require initial and ongoing trimming and removal of significant numbers of trees — harming not only the esthetics but also having a negative environmental impact and requiring ongoing costly maintenance.

Finally, but no less important, existing RF radiation from wireless technology has been linked to negative health effects and increased cancer rates as shown in multiple studies. The newer 5G technology has had no studies demonstrating safety for human or environmental health and exposure would be ubiquitous and unavoidable. We could be calling in a public health nightmare that might show up immediately, or 10 or 20 years down the road. We cannot afford to take this chance — especially now, in the midst of a public health emergency, it makes no sense to gamble with a factor that could contribute to negative health outcomes for Vermonters. As an RN working in Vermont since 1988, I am aware that an aging population and shortage of medical providers means we must take steps to support public health and minimize factors that could harm public health in any way.

In short, fiber to the premises is vastly superior to wireless technology in every way. It’s vital as we take steps to expand broadband access that we do so in a way that allows Vermont to take a leadership position by requiring FTTP from all telecom providers who are authorized to participate in any broadband expansion in the state. We need to maintain and expand wired connections for all telecom needs. It’s faster, more reliable, more environmentally conscious and better for public health.

MJ Webber lives in East Dummerston.

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