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Beware Of 5G Small-Cell-Sites

Every positive thing comes with some negatives, including 5G communications. Why would we want to talk about this subject in a landscape blog? Because it’s affecting our professionals and could affect you as well.

Certain 5G transmitting hardware has caused discomfort to arborists close to it. Earlier cell phone transmission depended on those ubiquitous cell towers that dot the landscape. We all know their shortcomings – flat spots where there was no service. One advantage of 5G is that this problem has been pretty much solved.

The way cell phone companies solved the problem is to install signal boosters all over the place. Called Small-Cell-Sites, most are installed on utility poles. Last month, a tree care trade magazine ran a story that featured two arborists who discovered this problem the hard way. They were working with cranes near Small-Cell-Sites, which were also near radio station transmission towers. The cell equipment and the towers were hidden by the surrounding trees, so they didn’t see them or the warning signs. The combination of both the Small-Cell-Site and the radio towers gave the arborists significant injuries.

Yes, Small-Cell-Sites have warning signs that include the name and contact information for the provider that owns the installation. Further research by tree care industry leaders found that arborists and landscape professionals who need to work near a Small-Cell-Site need only contact the provider a couple days before the work is scheduled and they’ll reroute the calls temporarily. It’s like calling the authorities to locate underground utilities before you dig. I don’t know whether the cell phone providers will extend the same courtesy to individuals as they do to professionals.

The takeaway is: If you see a can like object attached to a utility pole with a sign on the pole, read the sign before you start working. Then either contact the Small-Cell-Site owner or call us to do the work for you, and we’ll work with the cell provider. The one bright spot in this story is that the author contacted the American Cancer Society to see if these radio waves cause cancer. They were told that they do not. They were the same type of waves emitted by your cell phone or microwave oven.

Whenever I write or talk about tree work, I warn against the dangers of leaving the ground or being struck by a falling branch. To that, we add RF(Radiofrequency) radiation from a Small-Cell-Site. While you aren’t about to get cancer from exposure, appreciable discomfort is possible.

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