There are lots of questions when it comes to 5G wireless signals. Plenty of very reasonable people are concerned that 5G radio waves will cause harm to them, animals, plant and insect life.
Forgetting for a moment debates over things we can’t see with the naked eye; let’s consider something we can see. Trees.
Among all the debates it is easy to forget that for 5G radio waves to work effectively mini cell transmitters – which will need to be placed 250 metres apart along every street in the land for full coverage – require line of sight to work.
This means that a tree standing between a 5G transmitter and your phone, wifi router, or self-driving car could be an issue. The tree, particularly when it is full of leaves, will severely disrupt or block the 5G signal.
Stories are emerging of the wholesale removal of perfectly fine trees along perfectly pleasant streets.
Members of the public, aghast at the cutting down of trees in their street, have been told the trees are old, diseased, not-native, or are causing damage to the footpath or drains. Plausible excuses to remove mature trees. But what’s the rush and why now? What’s the agenda?
Helpfully the University of Surrey in the UK has published a very interesting White Paper called Meeting The Challenge of Universal Coverage, Reach and Reliability in the Coming 5G Era.
The paper’s co-authors are Tim Brown (5G IC), Michael Fitch (BT), David Owens (Telefonica), Simon Saunders (RealWireless), Andy Sutton (EE), and Stephen Temple (5G IC).
Section 3.1 of the paper says: “In the past the priority for planning authorities has been to reduce mobile mast heights so that masts are visually screened by buildings and/or trees – with trees being the highest and more likely obstruction.
“However, this also screens the RF [radio] signals and has defeated the objective of reliable coverage…even with a mast 10 meters tall there is still has [sic] a 30% chance of being blocked by trees.”
The authors recommend that cell transmitters should be 3 meters above tree height. Which is one reason why trees along your street are at risk of being removed. Do you want cell sites placed higher or the trees removed?
The illustration above, from the Connected Future report, shows that clear line of sight is the preferred option. And that means no trees between 5G cells sites and your phone.
A line from the Connected Future report out of the UK: “…the services that can be enjoyed, is dependent upon a number of factors. These include the distance of the user from the base station, the exact location of the user (as buildings & trees can block signals)…”
Telstra in Australia is worried about trees. And a report featuring US telco Verizon says: “The mm Wave technology has been criticized for its short propagation range and line-of-sight paths.” And finally the good old Current Bun in the UK is clear.
Bottom line; so you can download a 90 minute movie in a few seconds we risk losing our leafy neighbourhoods. Fair compromise?